Live Life Get Active is a community initiative that is facilitated and funded by corporate Australia and Local Government. In Hervey Bay sessions will commence on 26 April. Sponsors in our region are Heath Care Wide Bay, Genesis Care and Fraser Coast Regional Council.
If you asked me 12 months ago, about my interest in yoga, my answer would have been a very quick and definite ‘NO interest at all’. Why would I want to do something like that? I didn’t know much about yoga but what I did know is that it was slow, you listened to relaxing music and you didn’t wear shoes. What sort of exercise is that - no shoes!
I’m not going to sit here and say the journey has been all butterflies and rainbows, because it has not. There have been many sessions I’ve gone home and cried. But it was ok, because the tears were tears of becoming aware of my body, of who I was. They were tears of letting go, of releasing tension, pain and control.
Letting go of the fight response and understanding that the mind can influence the pain response was the first step. Appreciating that my body has served me extremely well through 60 years of exertion and should not be expected to perform like a 30 year old, came next. That meant accepting my limits with a new calmness and humility rather than anguish and stress.
Nobody else can fix us, we need to take action ourselves to benefit, every ones body is different and we all have our own story. Support and guidance is a wonderful gift and there's nothing wrong with incorporating other health care professionals into our health care plan, but ultimately no one knows us better than our own selves, and this from my experience takes time.
“The rational brain is the crowning glory of human beings. It is there to help us to engage in the world, but it is not very good in helping us take care of ourselves. In other words, the rational mind, while able to organize feelings and impulses, is not well equipped to abolish emotions, thoughts and impulses. People with PTSD, usually are out of touch with their physical sensations, and, as a consequence, they have trouble taking care of themselves. On the other end of the brain, the reptilian part is not good in quieting and taking care of the mind. However, when that system is harnessed the mind gets clearer, it’s easier to regain perspective on one’s life.”
I completed a long distance (1000km) walk which made me fitter, stronger and more confident but no more supple after carrying a heavy backpack. So back to another beginners course in January and I am ready for more conversations with my body but slightly more forgiving this time.
It was great to have my mum join me, she is the person who aside from my husband knows me best. She has been watching my mind click over from the days I explored my very first emotions. We would leave class and then just talk, discuss, ramble even about the finer points of class that really resonated with us. Polly seemed to speak as though she understood the journey we were just beginning personally and it was incredibly comforting as though we were headed in the right direction.
My home has become a lot more peacefull, and my kids are trying to be little yogis next to me every time I practice a pose. I am so happy that they, already now, are paying attention to this positive new practice in my life. I am starving to learn more, practice more – do more yoga; and is working hard to let my self be vulnerable and soft, and to lose the idea of always having to be perfect. My journey is about being more deeply involved in life, and yet less attached to it…
My happiness depended on my wife’s happiness, the children’s happiness and extended families happiness. If they weren’t happy, I wasn’t happy. I would get down easily and stressed a lot. I would argue with my wife and the relationship began to grow distance between us.
Before yoga I was heavily involved in sport up to a National level. Rugby League gave me a few broken bits and pieces. Acrobatics strained a few ligaments and muscles. Swimming and lifesaving from an early age meant that I was muscled before puberty and this left me with hunched shoulders and a body that I was not sure how to carry. (Of course I didn’t realize this at the time).
When I started with Polly it was simply just trying to make at least a class a week whenever I could fit it in and went to all of the different levels of class and then started to regularly attend Tuesday night men's class. The men's class help take away that feeling of being self-conscious while practicing an art that can never be perfect. The class is really focused on simple postures that help to get everything into alignment. What I now understand is that taking the time to learn from the beginning through a course or a weekend workshop really helps progress rather than just randomly attending classes.
In this hour and a half we find out how to lift, turn, stretch, wring and open up ribs, pelvic bones and sitting bones, calves and thighs etc etc...You name it we can stretch it, loosen it and get it to where it should be. From toes and feet fingers and hands: to the bowling ball weight sitting on top of the spine, we maximise the benefits of our body in this yoga class with Polly. AND WE REMEMBER TO BREATHE
If I were a young woman now I am not sure I would cope With all the things that you have – the opportunities the technology I’d like to think it would be a world of pleasure But I fear instead, it would only be a world of pressure Pressure to be the perfect mother, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend Pressure to be successful – a boss – a leader If I had my time again I wouldn’t create a ‘to do list’ – I would create a ‘to don’t do list’
” I always knew that my husband and family were fed up with my anxiety but I couldn’t help it. The fear of something happening to Aaleah (6) and Lucas (3) washed over me every time my kids tried to be……..well let’s face it, be Kids!!! I would watch other kids my children’s age jumping off high beams or flipping around monkey bars…….. But not my children as they took each step cautiously and with fear…fear that I had given them."
I’d never once considered staying home to care for the small person we’d created to be a legitimate, worthy choice and I struggled a lot with accepting this and “lost” myself a bit in the process. If only I had yoga in my life at the time! But I didn’t...so in order to regain a sense of normality and self I started distance running again, something which I enjoyed immensely and did a lot of before, and to a lesser extent during my pregnancy.
My mother had Alzheimers. She had not been with us for many years although I always felt her with me. I had made the decision not to be with mum when she passed as I had said my goodbyes on previous trips home. Yoga helped me to make a decision on what I felt was right for me at that time not what I felt I should do.
I was a little wary when on the first evening Caroline said that she would commence the class with a chant, and if we were not familiar with the chant, we could all join in for the three Om’s. From the moment the vibration of the first Om emanated around the room, I was overcome with emotion and began to shed tears. My logical brain knows that sound has vibrational energy , but my emotional heart had forgotten it, and as soon as it felt it, my soul remembered.
During the workshop Caroline gave us long pose timings, which encouraged me to “dig deeper” and “go within”. This allowed my body to really settle in to each pose and instead of over-thinking the pose, the body finds its true alignment instinctively.
What initially drew me to yoga was that it simply offered a new opportunity to maintain my fitness. However I was hooked from the very first class and very quickly became intrigued with the notion that practicing this physical discipline could develop a deeper self awareness and bring a more harmonious connection between mind, physical body and emotion. This was all new territory for me. I relished the opportunity to learn more and explore this pathway into a part of myself that had been buried.
I’m standing in Tadasana and Caroline Coggins is talking to my right leg. “What are you doing there?’, she says. My leg seems to be listening, so the ‘me’ who’s observing sits back to see what unfolds. There’s a slight pause. A subtle adjustment occurs.
“There were times during the retreat I actually felt my inexperience added to my practice – it was as if my body was on autopilot applying what Caroline was saying without my mind interfering. Not once did I feel inadequate just in awe that this is where my yoga journey is leading. It was also humbling to hear that even these experienced Yogis still have days when they find it difficult to meditate!...
"What I learned from this experience was in the quest of happiness I look for external drivers to what essentially is and internal function. I observed the Balinese People who from my perspective whilst living in poverty and hardship but maintaining a high level of happiness. They were loving, generous and always smiling. "
“I remember my first meeting with Polly, walking through the studio, seeing all the ropes and props and coming away unsure of what to make of it. I remember speaking to my family and best buddy and telling them I would “give it a go”. I felt a very sincere, deep connection with this teacher Polly and something was telling me trust that instinct....
I stayed on in Bali to attend a professional development week with Caroline and a number of other teachers and trainee teachers from across Australia. One of the ongoing themes throughout the period of retreat was about how people learn.