Since relocating to the North West these past few weeks, my yoga schedule has been a bit all over the place and it has been challenging to do any practise, never mind locate a class. Last week however, a notice in the village shop caught my eye and after making enquiries, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a regular Tuesday night class taking place in the local town hall. Despite it being a cold windy night, the place was buzzing with activity when I got there. The local choir was rehearsing in one room and in a side kitchen several women were setting up an enormous water boiler along with cups and saucers for a forthcoming event. The room for our yoga class was tucked away at the top of the building and with its radiators fully cranked up and curtains drawn, it was warm and inviting. The class, which had been running for some time, had a relaxed feel about it, with people leaning across mats to greet each other. And as the teacher commenced the practise, she even invited me to introduce myself to everyone.
As it was essentially a beginners class in hatha yoga, with a slightly older age group, we were reminded continually to proceed with caution and to help us along, we did a lengthy round of warm up exercises. We started with tip toeing around the four corners of our mats to stretch our toes and then moved to rotating our knees in circles and stretching out our legs. This was proceeded by numerous twists and flexing of our fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders and neck. We finished with some jaw releasing exercises and a round of deep breaths. We replaced Sun Salutations, with a series of arm stretches up over our heads sweeping down to the ground with bent legs. And all balancing postures were done with the support of the wall. The whole time there was a cheerful rapport between the teacher and the class as everyone was encouraged to ‘do your best and mind how you go!’
Even though the class was not at the pace that I am used to, I found myself enjoying it and more than anything enjoying my classmates. It was so heart warming to listen to some of the elderly ladies laugh at the creaks and groans of their bodies and also hear such contented sighs as they lay in relaxation with the teacher tucking them under their blankets. As I lay sprawled out on my own mat, it gave me some peace of mind, to think that if I kept going, and maintained my practice I should have no problems bending and stretching into my golden years.
Ironically when I woke the following morning, I could barely get out of bed and had the most horrendous pain in my lower back. I had somehow managed to overstretch in one of the forward bends, something that has never happened to me in my eight years of doing yoga and was now struggling to even put my socks on. For the rest of the day, I moved with great care around the house carrying a hot water bottle, almost in a state of shock that I could incur an injury in a beginners yoga class. Had I failed to heed the warnings of the teacher? Had my body not been able to cope with so much stretching after a period of no practise? Or had I simply been showing off as my husband sheepishly suggested. As the day wore on, I lay mooroned on the sofa thinking that perhaps my body was trying to send me a message. After a year of ups and downs, I really was tired both physically and mentally and maybe my body now needed a break. Was the universe using a moment of reprieve from the hustle and bustle of daily life to say ‘Calm Down’. And really was it truly the end of the world if I didn’t get to a yoga class? Perhaps now was the time that I actually needed to slow down, to breathe, to become a little bit more self aware and pay closer attention to my body. Perhaps now was the time that I truly needed to unwind and let go…