When Hard is Good: The Challenge of Yoga


The Challenge of Tennis

Daniel and I played tennis the other day. So, what’s unusual deal about that?

I haven’t played tennis in maybe 15 years. It was too painful for me to play when I had hip arthritis, so I stopped. During the period that I was suffering, I stopped riding my bicycle, too. I didn’t do much bush walking. I let other people do the heavy lifting. You get the picture.

Little by little, the list of physical activities I could participate in dwindled until yoga became my last refuge. I thank all the Goddesses that I had yoga and yoga teaching. They were there like trusty companions right up until I underwent bi-lateral hip surgery. And then almost immediately afterwards, yoga was there for me again.

I adore tennis. I’ve played since I was a teen-ager. As adolescents, my sister and I would go out into the street in the summer evenings and hit balls. Playing in an unfenced area, you get really good at keeping the ball in play. Especially when the Tucson temperature at 7pm was a hot and sweaty 30 degrees.

Here’s something that doesn’t quite add up for me. It would seem that everything was against Daniel and me having an enjoyable tennis experience.

The temperature was over 30 degrees. There was no shelter from the midday sun, and there was scarcely a breeze. Daniel and I had to hire balls and racquets because our equipment was in disrepair. The rented racquets and balls were inferior but we made do. We forgot our water bottles, played badly and discovered our fitness was not good. We finished 10 minutes before our hour was up, sweltering and breathing hard.

Yet, I had the best time, and I can’t wait to get back to play again.

The Challenge of Yoga

The tennis experience reflects what happened in my first Iyengar yoga class. It wasn’t a beginners’ class in any shape or form. It was comprised of students who had just finished a rigorous 6 month teacher training. The teacher, Martyn Jackson, ordered us around like a drill sergeant. I remember doing 25 urdhva dhanurasanas (wheel poses) where we were exhorted to hold each one. I thought I was going to die, but I also felt I had to keep up with the others, so I did.

Did I mention the class was 2 hours long?

I vowed that, if I were in good enough shape to walk up the stairs to the first floor premises, I would return the next morning. And so I did.

‘Being’ is the Gift of Yoga Nidra

yoga nidra The Experience of Interconnected Wholeness I enjoyed the experience of resting in my meditative heart this weekend through the practice of Yoga Nidra . Two excellent things came out of this experience: 1. I found it very restful. Very. 2. And, I realised that the experience is as near to you as your heart is. In other words, it’s […]
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Yoga and Sciatica: Lessons Learned

Ld Artist   The other night at the cinema, riveted by a documentary called “Once My Mother”, I felt a sudden stab of pain in the back of my left leg. I felt like jumping up and running out of the theatre, the pain was so acute. I thought, oh no, sciatica! My innate good manners had me sit relatively […]
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Old Age: What’s the Big Deal?

old lady In the lead-up to my 70th birthday in December, I’ve been playing with the idea of declaring myself old. This is my way of getting used to the idea. After all, at some point I have to own my age, and ‘old’ is just a word, isn’t it? I know there are many people of advanced […]
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Be Your Self – Better Still, Just Be

donna I don’t usually study with other yoga teachers and here’s why: I live hours from any major city centre and tend to stay close home. I like doing my own practice in the Yoga Shed. And, well, okay, I’m a bit of a snob. I want to study with the best when I take time to travel long distance […]
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The Hijacking of Your Best Intentions

intentions via Pinterest* The Big Question I wish I had more wisdom when it comes to advising yoga students about how to develop discipline or adopt a yogic lifestyle. I’ve been asked questions on this subject many times over the years and usually by people who have the best intentions. The other night at a dinner party, […]
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Having a Yoga Mentor is a Must!

Adjustment This last weekend, I had the privilege of teaching a group of yoga teachers and keen students in a workshop entitled “The Art of Adjusting.” In the lunch break I spoke to one of the participants about her concern that her classes seem to stay small, even though she’s been teaching them for some time. What do we […]
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Meditation – Free as a Bird?

satin_bowerbird_115060 The Bird I spotted a satin bowerbird building his ‘love shack’ in a sheltered part of our garden. My Wiki source says that these clever birds are endemic to eastern Australia. If you’re from another part of the world and aren’t familiar with bower birds, here’s a pic of a male: I’ve known for a long time […]
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Yoga and Hysterectomy

uterus Google Image  If you were told that you needed to have a hysterectomy, would you consider yourself lucky? Not likely!Life, The Universe, whatever you want to call it has been handing me plenty of dilemmas, especially as I get older. I’ve discovered that, with the right mind set, any ‘bad news’ can be converted into […]
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Yoga is Perfect for Seniors

Never too late via Pinterest I admire older individuals who put aside their fears and considerations and come to yoga for the first time. These 50 to 80 year olds are what I call the ‘grey warriors’. By joining a class at this late stage, they are setting off on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s very likely that they will embrace yoga […]
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