When Polly asked if I would write something for the newsletter I was fortunate enough to have been at Caroline Coggins Bali retreat in beautiful Ubud. I had plenty of time to sit back in between classes to read, relax, reflect and indulge in the occasional massage.
I wasn't sure what I could contribute to the newsletter as I've only been practising Iyengar yoga since Polly opened the school in Hervey Bay and prior to that I had really only dabbled in a few different yoga styles as I lived the best part of my life in Central Queensland where there were limited styles available.
So to start off I guess I should begin with a little about myself.
My name is Nat. I'm married to a wonderful man named Waz and I have 3 beautiful adult children, all of whom I'm extremely proud of. I have a loving family network and a precious small circle of friends who I love and adore.
Waz and I are now what you would call "empty nesters"
We moved to Hervey Bay 2 years ago and are both full time shift workers in emergency health.
It's true to say that I have always been a GOAL setter. Very motivated with sometimes ridiculously high expectations of myself in most aspects of my life. ( that's another story for another day!)
I've always enjoyed an active lifestyle and being physically fit and healthy has always been a top priority for me. I was a distance runner for many years and regular hard physical workouts at a gym was the norm from an early age and what I truly loved to do.
Unfortunately my body didn't agree and a few years ago bursitis in both hips set in and a chronic shoulder injury made it impossible to continue running and training as I knew it. The sulking began ( not an attractive quality) as I didn't think I was ever going to find anything to replace it.
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.
Well life as I knew it has never been the same for me or for Waz for that matter, and I would like to share what my yoga practice is teaching me so far.
I'm learning to be kind and gentle to myself, to my body. That's not to say I don't work hard, in fact it's harder in some ways to work slower and with control. Polly gives clear, detailed instructions so as to avoid any injuries.
I'm learning how to really listen to my body. To really go within. Not just stretch and bang and push and shove to achieve the picture perfect asana.
I'm learning to feel muscle to the bone, to release tension, to create more space. It is so incredible once you have tasted that.
I'm learning to trust my body's capabilities and that I don't have to be perfect. I'm learning to laugh at myself and to not take it all so seriously.
I'm learning that every time I get on my mat it brings new challenges both physically and mentally and that I'm never allowed to get too comfortable. ( I need that!) because just when I think I have an asana worked out and am feeling a bit chuffed, Polly takes me to another deeper level to find. "TO FIND!" You do a lot of searching!
I'm learning that every "body" that walks into the studio is unique and beautiful and capable of doing yoga and that Polly works with all her students to find what I'm finding. I'm learning that there is absolutely NO reason to not practice yoga and that I'm not alone when it comes to the sabotaging dialogue that enters our heads..
I'm learning that your NOT too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too unfit, too inflexible, too tired, too busy, too sick, too injured or too good to begin. bla, bla ,bla! I'm sure we've all had these thoughts.
I'm learning that Iyengar yoga is for ALL body types, shapes and sizes, not just for the young, beautiful, fit and flexible.
I'm learning how to quieten my mind and let the thoughts come and go whilst I sit in Sukhasana ( That's going to take some practise) however I've also learnt that I'm not the only one who's feet go numb whilst doing this and that every time you do it it is a different experience.
I'm learning to use my breath in a way that I've never known before, to quieten the chatter in my head and to help release tightness in a muscle, go deeper into a bend.
I'm learning to expand my chest cavity to fill every space of my poor old ex smokers lungs.
I'm learning to speak another language ( Sanskrit) which will enable me to go anywhere in the world and enter a yoga class and understand what the teacher is saying. I've always wanted to learn a second language. (Another GOAL of mine, I just always imagined it would be something exotic like Spanish or perhaps Italian. Hahah.)
I've learnt that my yoga practice is NOT just about the physical benefits I'm achieving. There is so much more to the practice than that.
Yoga is teaching me and guiding me through my emotional and spiritual journey. But that is a story for another day and one that I'm finding just as challenging and exciting as learning the Asanas.
I have spent the last week surrounded by the most inspiring group of Iyengar practitioners from all walks of life . Many of whom have been practising for many, many years.
What was evident amongst this group was their passion for their yoga practice and that even after all these years, they are still as excited as me (a newby to yoga) to continue to learn and explore and embrace their own practice with passion, enthusiasm and grace.
This has just confirmed for me what I had been thinking prior to this retreat.
That I CAN reach my ultimate GOAL. Which is to live till I'm 90 years of age, fit and healthy and be that funky old lady on her yoga mat.
And what excites me the most is I have at least 40 more years of playing with my practice.
Namaste beautiful people and I look forward to seeing you on your mats.
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.