I don't recall when yoga entered my life but I know my first exposure would have been through my dad's practice. It probably didn’t even start with physical yoga, as my first associated memory is when our local GP, who I now realize was also Buddhist and recently returned from India, came over for dinner with my family. After dinner he and dad took to the floor (not the usual after-dinner proceedings) and Dr Bauer proceeded to teach my dad breath meditation. Meanwhile 7 year old little Lou, not wanting to miss out, followed every instruction meticulously to the point that the same lotus pose and breath visualisation that Dr Bauer described is still as clear to me to today as it was back then. Carry on through childhood and the teen years, while not overtly observing my father’s habits and the priorities in regard to things like daily meditation or attending weekly yoga classes, these background activities and conversations must have left some imprint.
This openness and willingness to try that my dad modelled for me without even realizing it has had both subtle and profound effects on the course of my life. I still have a yoga book that I ‘borrowed’ from my dad over 15 years ago now.
Since my first serious foray into formal yoga classes back in 1998 yoga has always been there ebbing and flowing in my life. And dad has always been there as someone that I can discuss the ins and outs of these things with. Now reflecting on how dad and I have this additional bond of being able to relate to each other through our experiences of yoga and meditation I am starting to see some parallels. Here I am pondering how the tables have turned as I am now the one telling my dad to practice as that will help with whatever is going on in his life at the time.
I can’t imagine not having this understanding with my dad. To have someone that I am able to talk to on the basic level at which I understand and experience the world is not something to take for granted. It is a quality that is I highly prize in my friends as it means that I can have those ‘deeper’ or 'more vulnerable' conversations with them that most people either avoid or have no awareness of. It is being able to have a discussion with someone that understands what I’m talking about; feeling like they have a similar understanding of the words that I’m using or the experience I’m referring to. And I’m not talking about physical shapes here, (taking into account that this is my perception of what yoga is about and we all come to yoga and understand it in our own ways and based on our own life experiences) I’m talking about having an appreciation of the mind-body relationship, the nature of our minds and our own ability to affect our minds over time for our own longterm peace and wellbeing. Not to mention how these changes in our own mind can influence the course of our lives and the lives of all those around us.
I for one am eternally grateful that Polly came across yoga all those years ago and for every bit of learning, practice and experience that she has gathered since then for it to come about that she has now opened a school here in Hervey bay and created this community of people who are now beginning their own personal lifelong journeys under her guidance. I feel privileged to be one of those students; to receive authentic teachings from someone with Polly’s experience, insight and character.
I wonder, if my father had not been into yoga, what course would have my life taken and would I be here writing this article for The Hervey Bay Yoga School today? Hmmmm
Yoga is the lay persons neuroscience - Yogis have known for centuries that there are layers of mental activity that can be harnessed and directed. When attention becomes concentration and concentration establishes a pause between the rise and fall of thoughts, we arrive into a state known as meditation. The interconnections between the layers of consciousness create the conditions for wisdom.. it arises in the pause, in the interruption of habitual thought.
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
As we hone our skills of discernment and tap into deep forces that pertain to balance, stability, heaviness, lightness, we are actually meeting fear and desire. We feel the tap of ignorance on our shoulder. Our perception of experience and the experience itself are not the same things. We know this in the very cells of our being… it is no longer a construct of understanding. It is an experiential truth. We can confidently and calmly accept that our mental faculty (memory and emotions) are bias. That our mental view is a construction that functions to keep our ego intact.