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
” 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.