This was sent to me by a student after her first class, I was so touched by her funny, courageous depiction of her first class with me.
Trying yoga for the first time…
I’d been thinking about trying yoga for a while. To be fair, I think about trying a lot of things – living in a cave, writing the great Australian novel, having un-chipped nail polish for more than a week. But this seemed slightly more achievable, so I found some vaguely suitable attire and made my way to Athelstone.
To be honest, the idea of yoga freaked me out a bit. I’m a competitive person and the idea of sitting cross-legged with a bunch of people saying Ommmmmmm seemed kind of… lame. However, I’d read some articles suggesting there was some science behind the single syllable séance. Another part of me was worried I wouldn’t be up to it – I did some reasonable level dancing until my early twenties, but various injuries to my joints had meant that the only dancing I did anymore was on the tabletop of bars. But, the idea of a place where I could finally wear leggings as pants and be accepted sounded cool enough to give it a crack.
At the first Ommmmm, I found myself suppressing a giggle. We started off lying down on our mats, lights dimmed, as Kate talked us through some relaxation techniques. I was feeling pretty smooth – I’ve done meditation before. But a teensy bit of me started to panic. I’m a to-do list person, my brain is constantly jumping from one thing to the next. And here I was, being asked to focus my brain on one task at a time?!
We moved into some stretches and I had the strangely pleasant sensation of discovering muscles that I thought had withered and died long ago. I was keeping up and it felt ok. Kate was positive to each person in the class, noticing something in their technique or posture, correcting gently if needed. Having had a flamenco teacher who used to have screaming matches with her husband/ guitarist in the middle of classes, this was a nice change and made it feel like a safe space.
The stretches got harder, requiring more balance. My poor knees and ankles weren’t up to it all of the time. But Kate encouraged us to listen to our own bodies – this was such a nice contrast to old dance teachers who would push me to breaking pointe (see the pun?). I pushed my body a little, but followed Kate’s instructions. I actually observed where my strengths and weaknesses were, adjusting accordingly. There were lots of pose names and concepts that were new to me, but that’s the same with learning any new thing. I had to accept that I was not ready to balance on my head.
But as we lay down on the mats again at the end of the sensation, my body felt different. My limbs felt longer. My body felt awakened. When I stood up, my back felt stronger. That night, I slept deeply and woke early, naturally. And I knew that I would be back.
I must confess, when it came time for the second and final Ommmmm, I might have even said it.