A new dawn...deep breath in
A new year begins and I begin a new journey...gulp!! My quest? To become a yogi...and not of the bear variety (total dad joke!) I'm about to start training with YogaBirth to become an antenatal yoga teacher in what feels like a strange quirk of fate in that I've only recently fully embraced yoga after years spent dipping my toe on and off a yoga mat. The antenatal bit feels more logical as I've spent the last seven years supporting pregnant women through my work with Birth Companions. So show me a model of a pelvis and I'll have a good stab at describing how a baby manoeuvres through it during birth, but ask me to manoeuvre my own pelvis into marjaryasana and you may need to give me a minute...or twenty!
There's so much to learn and it feels a little overwhelming for a novice like me so initially, I'm just trying to focus on the basics. Contrary to my preconceived ideas born out of hours wasted watching YouTube videos, it turns out that yoga isn't just about bendy backs and glorious poses. It's a way of communing with your body and developing a deeper understanding of how you can loosen and lengthen your spine to achieve incredible things. Pivotal to any yoga practice is the breath and having just finished reading Sandra Sabatini's thought provoking (if a little confusing!) book Breath - A Guide to Inner Stillness, I'm realising there is so much to understand about the simple act of breathing. I've spent years pounding pavements in my running shoes with the mantra 'in through the nose, out through the mouth' ringing in my ears. But yoga feels like a very different type of exercise to the cardio I'm used to. Getting breathless is a bad sign! It suggests an overworking or straining of the body in pursuit of the pose I'm just not ready for. To quote the inspirational Vanda Scaravelli (and to also appear well-read!)..."Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose" I've had to remind myself of this quite frequently during my daily practice, particularly when it comes to back bends.
The third thing I've learnt about yoga so far is that it's a slow burner. It takes commitment and patience and results can't be hurried. This approach is counter intuitive to someone like me who likes to reap the rewards of any endeavour as quickly as possible. So if I'm going to become a proper bendy mum, I need to change my mindset pronto!
A prerequisite of my training with YogaBirth is to establish a daily yoga practice and this has been easier to do than I first imagined. Being told to do something every day can risk turning said 'something' into a chore but daily yoga is anything but. Some days, after all four of my kids are in bed, I've weary climbed the stairs to my bedroom to dig out my yoga mat with a little voice in my head grumbling, "Really, now?!"
As an aside I should explain that I like to practice in front of the mirrors on my wardrobe because this helps me to better judge the accuracy of my poses. Perhaps when I graduate from a nervous novice to a more confidential yogi I'll be better able to judge the effectiveness of my asanas by the way they feel but until then, the mirrors help.
But my "Really, now?!" voice is swiftly silenced as soon as I assume mountain pose and begin to focus on my breath, on the gentle music I like to play in the background and on the small space in my day when I can absorb myself in guilt-free self-focus. My practice is often clumsy and my balance poses give new meaning to the word wobbly, but at the moment the beauty of my yoga is in the revelation and release it gives me.
This will be a long possibly life long journey for me and I'm feeling more energised and excited by that thought than anything I've tried in a very long time. Time to take a deep, cleansing breath in to prepare...