Alternative Monday’s I take a 1-2-1 yoga class with Claire, the principle yoga teacher at my local yoga studio. Claire is an amazing teacher and in the short time she and I have been working together I have learned so much about what my body is capable of.
Claire encourages me to physically challenge myself, probably more than anyone has ever done before. She has me twisting, and bending and reaching to places I never knew was possible. Six months ago I could barely touch my toes, now I am planking, holding controlled side angles and learning back bends. Claire regularly laughs at the faces I pull as she demonstrates a pose to me which I think is impossible and then tells me “you can do this, I know you can”.
This evening we were chatting about how to move from headstands to handstands. You have to bear in mind at this point that I have done headstands, one or two, just not many very effectively. They make me feel a bit wobbly and like I have to heave getting off the ground and when I am feet up head down I worry that back will buckle, my legs will turn lazy, topple me over and leave me in an ungainly broken heap. I like my feet on terra firma, I am after all not a bird but a person and we are designed to be feet down.
But, as these things tend to go Claire had other ideas and before I knew it I was upside down, in a sort of dolphin pose with my feet on the wall behind me. It was not graceful. I was nervous, and in general the thought of doing anything where there is a possibility of smashing my face against the floor does not fill me with joy but as I came out of the pose Claire said to me “face your fear, look between your hands not not behind them and you will not fall”. I squared my mind to it, took my trust in her knowledge, breathed a deep inhalation and up I went with more determination and grace, came down and then up again with my hands planted firmly on the floor in a handstand with my feet high on the wall.
I don’t know if it was the sense of achievement or the blood rushing into my brain but the feeling was euphoric. As I came out of the pose for the final time, and got back onto my feet I thought “this is the kind of feeling I could use all the time”.
Since beginning to practice yoga, I am constantly amazed at how a series of movements can improve not just your balance, tone and posture but how it can positively affect your mind.
I came across this quote earlier which I feel is very fitting for how yoga has now become a such a part of my life.
Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self – Bhagavad Gita.
Claire Studd teaches at Yoga Penistone, South Yorkshire.