I have been asked a gazzilllion times about how to start a yoga practice.
Do you have to be a yogi and retreat into the Himalayas to get into it or should you be so flexible that you twist and turn yourself into a pretzel?
I have had the pleasure of learning and practicing yoga in both, the western world and lately, in India.
My first ever yoga class was at a local teacher’s class and at that point in my life, I did not know that getting a good yoga teacher is half the job done. Now, this woman was all heart but no skill. She mixed up online youtube yoga sessions with her version of jumping around the room chanting Om at the highest volume. Her incense filled room with intensive chakra art was enough to intimidate anyone. Needless to say, I never returned after a month of wierd zumbaish yoga classes and I was crushed.
I later got in touch with an Ashtanga yoga teacher and since was based up north in England and I was down south, our sessions were online and she would make pictures of poses for me to follow and I felt happy with my practice but i wanted to more.
During my last trip in India, I started looking up yoga retreats and classes and most of them were just out to cheat you. One woman asked me to pay up a huge amount of money first before even considering the classes. I felt like this was a bad money making business now and felt a tinge of sadness at not being able to learn yoga in India, the birthplace of yoga.
In the later years, I started lifting more and as I loved getting instant results or just hitting the iron hard, yoga took a backseat in my life.
I met some very funny and crazy characters during this phase. I was still looking for a good teacher and I met an overzealous religious leader who prescribed me to stop eating bread, lay off caffeine and ONLY eat vegetarian food to consider getting results in his classes, I ran for dear life. One woman preached to me about the intensity and greatness of Indian culture and Hinduism and as I am against ALL FORMS OF ORGANISED RELIGION I despised it.
Last month, my father found an Iyengar yoga centre in Delhi and as I was here, I did some research, found it credible and visited the centre.
It was like finding home.
For the first time, I did not feel the oppressive need to trying to prove anything. The teacher was someone who loved yoga for yoga and the only thing she asked of us was to not come hungover to her class.
She taught biology along with yoga with no religion added in and I felt whole with my mind and body.
She did not twist us or even put us in a headstand, she focussed on us understanding our bodies and after my 8 classes were over, as I went over to thank her, i felt so overwhelmed that I bawled my eyes out, crying about finding a good teacher in Toronto. I am lucky enough that she has agreed to help me haha!!
So, here I am, a bodybuilder and a lifter, I practice yoga and I am by no means an ideal yogini but I am so happy with the way my body and mind respond and the amazing amazing teacher I had that I have a new found love for yoga.
Even if lifting is still on the driver’s seat, yoga is right by it as a co-driver.