There’s something so simple and yet so complex about yoga. I’m in awe of those who hold tree poses with apparent ease, perfectly aligned, with one foot resting against the other inner knee, knee turned outward, hands in the prayer position and then they raise arms high, bring them down again, and change legs.
The head stand: arms in triangle on the floor, forehead on ground, then in one fluid moment, legs up and body in one straight line, perfectly inverted.
My late mother was a yoga teacher. She took up yoga when diagnosed at around age 45 that she was likely to be wheelchair-bound because of a particular medical condition. Not acceptable to my mother. For many years she studied under the best teachers and then she began her own yoga teaching practice. So many years ago it was considered rather esoteric and odd. The results of her yoga teaching were remarkable; so much so that medical doctors began referring patients to her. I have several letters in a file I have on my mother from GP’s and specialists who referred their patients to her and reported back that ‘Mrs so and so seems much improved’. And dozens more from grateful pupils who found this time out in her studio to fill ‘..a much needed place in modern life’ (1969). Another: ‘…I couldn’t walk far…lack of breath…especially your breathing exercises…you said to me it was a challenge to overcome…I haven’t had a single asthmatic wheeze or tightening of breath…’. ‘I…my limbs feel as if they’re becoming firmer’.
She was a practitioner of Hatha Yoga. ‘Ha’ means Sun, ‘Tha’ means Moon I gather. Her yoga teaching involved holding the posture with breathing exercises. Do you know that most of us don’t breath correctly? When you breath IN, it is like filling a balloon with air so the tummy rises. When you let the ballon deflate, it is the same when you breath OUT; the tummy deflates.
She also taught pro bono at homes for the elderly. Many of these patients in their 80’s and 90’s were able to leave their wheelchairs and walk unaided; I have press releases that show them doing the shoulder stand! (Though head stands and shoulder stands were postures that my mother alllowed only after a few years of regular yoga). And dozens of testimonies from grateful patients who said goodbye to their e.g. asthma inhalers.
Letters from mothers who very successfully delivered their babies , one of whose doctors gave her ‘…101% for my performance and it was all due to you’.
The relaxation at the end of class would be my mother’s voice instructing her pupils to feel the breathing, from the tips of our toes to the crowns of our heads, stretch, stretch in between, sinking into our mats, further, deeper, letting go, relaxing, relaxing until we were almost comatose. This would be followed by a recording of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata Movement One – blissed in and out –
I am listening to it as I write. If I could embed it and share it I would, but neither of my sons is available right now to help me with this telephonically.
It’s never too late to take up yoga.