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
Practically speaking, when we are stiff in our hips and hamstrings our knees and ankles are ‘punished’. At some stage it is better to be accountable/aware of how to work with our hamstrings and hips so that the knees and ankles are able to get on with their work. It’s also the case in twisting poses that people twist into the flexible areas of their spine and in doing so completely miss the area that needs to be ‘accountable’: we are slipping around a stiffness and there will be consequences.
Our yoga classes for children have been running for 4 years and some of the feedback we get from parents and also teachers is amazing and encouraging. Children experience stress for lots of different reasons and yoga helps them to 'discharge' it through physical movements and also through breathing exercises and meditation.
When we go camping, we sit in awe of the magnificence of the mountain, the oceans, the sky. We go there because we recognize that some thing changes within us when we sit quietly within the wonderment of nature. We say "I am different", "I am happier", "I am energized", "I am more content". When we practice yoga we learn to sit in the wonderment of our embodiment. It is our microcosm of the macrocosm of nature. We recognize that being in the power of our own presence is a practice of being at one with the forces of nature.