Sunday, 24 August 2014

About Six Inches from the Floor

My nose was about six inches from the floor hands spread eagled under my shoulder, bum perched in ridiculous fashion up towards the sky and who knows where my feet were?  I was quietly hopeful they were behind me and on the mat somewhere, progress of a sort! My two hands should have been flat to the floor with fingers wide spread, but you see my wrist was too weak so I had to close up my fist on my right and balance on my knuckle, when I think back on it the yoga teacher was more than restrained. I was in that pose what I know now, is called Down Dog a sort of comfortable pose that I sometime these days, retreat into from more testing poses. But back then I can assure you it felt like a particularly peculiar type of persecution.

So why did I stay on the mat that very first day? There I was, in a yoga class of thirty five people hidden away in the back blocks so that no one could see me. All around me were folk of different shape, age and ability some, for whom like me it was patently the first time they had ever stepped onto a mat, others were svelte young things who looked like they had been born doing yoga.The yoga teacher herself was an older model of the above mentioned young ones, an amazing shapely bendy woman in her late 60's early 70's and truly a great advertisement for what she was teaching . As we stretched, huffed and puffed through that first routine and I began to feel my muscles stretching, the blood course through my veins, the very gradual  awakening of different parts of my body, It felt like little bits of me seemed to have  been asleep for a very,very long time.

My mind drifts  back to my childhood (Obviously I hadn't learnt anything about mindfulness yet or staying present!) I was sent to a private school away from my beloved national school at eight years of age . It was an all boys school and it was the the first year girls were allowed to attend. There were about ten girls and what felt like a million boys, probably in reality about two hundred. Part of our curriculum was a curious subject called PT. I had no idea what PT was but duly obeyed orders to put on my runners and assemble at the quad. We lined up in rank formation and this Physical Training (PT) instructor  from the  army, came to put us through our paces. It was a version of yoga though I didn't know that either, but I remember feeling a curios sensation at that early age that I had done this type of thing before, a sort of body memory. I revelled in it, the freedom yet discipline of the movements allowed me a kind of real self expression that was a bit different from going to art class or pounding out scales on the piano.

Back on the mat, the movements of my body and the discipline of the poses have once again awoken not only that childhood memory but also the strong feeling that I have done this before, that first morning it was almost instinctive, that I knew what to do before I did it. It made me smile and wonder at the world. It felt like I had come home. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Yogic Magic.

It was when she said in a quiet calm way "space your toes apart", that did it . I contemplated my toes seriously for the first time in my life, smiling inwardly, wondering how do you space your toes? Like it was no problem between the first and second toe, and you could just see a kind of daylight between the second and third toe, but from there on, it wasn't going to happen! They might as well have been glued together. I remember once meeting a man with webbed toes and thinking he must have been an excellent swimmer. My toes were not webbed they were just stuck, together that is.

 This stream of consciousness was occurring within the first few minutes of above mentioned feet arriving firmly on mat. I looked at my neighbour's toes they, belonging to a beautiful poised and elegant Palestinian woman, with slim attractive feet, a subtle contrast to my own strong broad peasant feet, with beef to the heel like a Mullingar heifer. I was quietly pleased to see, that she too was having toe issues. Hers were even "stucker" than mine!

The practise in yoga that first day continued to be firmly feet focussed. Now we had to press our toe mounds down and lift the pinkies up, all of them! No problem there I thought proudly, my toes always kind of waved around up in the air of their own accord, sort of perpendicular to the floor rather than horizontal, in fact so much so, that the top of my shoes often wore out before the soles, but that does not concern us here. Keeping said toes aloft and fluttering in the breeze, we then had to press down the little pinky toe mound, then the inner heel mound and finally the  outer heel mound. There I was stuck, with the four corners of me feet to the ground, toes at 90 degrees, when she issues the next instruction. "Close your eyes and turn your attention inwards", how in utter of GOD did she seriously expect me to do this when I was in danger of falling over because me feet were super glued to the floor? I bet you nobody else is closing their eyes I thought, I'll just open my eyes a little bit and see if everyone else has theirs shut. Ha! caught the tall skinny guy on the mat to my right with his eyes open, why is he looking at me like that ? He is staring fixedly at my sticky up toes! which I kind of now want to hide away, them having become a  source of mortification as opposed to a kind of yogic magic.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

From The First Tentative Bend Of A Big Toe

The first words of anything always feel scarey especially anything I write . So very tentatively I start .
This blog here is about my yoga adventures and journey as I expand my practise and connect with the yoga community locally and across the planet. To those who don't know me I have a lovely yoga studio in the former hostel building at Glenhordial Farm. I call this the Bamboo loft as it has a most wonderful bamboo floor in it. 

Caught in a light moment at a photo shoot.

My yoga journey has been interesting to say the least. I had no intention to take up  yoga there  was nothing further from my mind. About six years ago an organisation that I was doing some work for, insisted that we had to do four sessions of yoga whilst on a course that we were attending. I protested loudly that as I went for a run in the mornings there was no need for me to take up yoga. I was dragged kicking and screaming onto the yoga mat. I was not on my mat five minutes, when I wondered to myself why on earth it had taken me so long to discover yoga.It had an immediate and dramatic effect on my life from that morning forward.