Yoga Suits Her
I’ve been teaching yoga since 1980. A lot of my identity is tied up with being a yoga teacher. What does that mean? What should that mean? On this site I explore my personal journey and provide commentary on the state of yoga in the twenty-first century. I invite you to have a look and see what may be here for you.
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar
Personally, I think it is necessary to celebrate special days and meaningful anniversaries. I try never to let a family member’s or friend’s birthday go unacknowledged. Imagine your life if that special person hadn’t been born. And, it is such an easy thing to make a phone call or send a message. Besides, whether you like Facebook or not, it will remind you.
And so, with this post, I’m acknowledging and appreciating the fact that I have attained 50 yoga practice years.
I’m forever grateful that my dear girlfriend, Mary Lou, came up with the idea of us doing yoga. She thought we could lose some weight and learn to relax by participating in a 10-week course at the local YMCA.
I was a no-nothing regarding yoga, but I trusted my friend. If I had been able to google the word ‘yoga’ in 1971, I would have found references to the Beatles and Mahreesh Mahesh Yogi, Ram Dass and psychedelic drugs, and television shows with women in Lycra leotards and stiffly sprayed hair.
Mary Lou and I arrived at the YMCA class and took up our cross-leg seated positions on gym mats. I sneaked a peek at the fifteen or so other students–not a man in sight. That part of yoga has not changed much.
Leading the class was a slim, lively yet calm woman in her mid-sixties. Dorothy Tomarelli told us by way of introduction that her husband had died a few years previously. As a result of her grief, Dorothy went into a rapid emotional and physical decline. Her muscles atrophied and she lost strength. Her doctor, seeing her depressed state, advised her to take up yoga. Dorothy decided that she had nothing to lose and searched for a class. It turned out to be so much of a lifesaver that she decided to teach yoga.
This is often the way a seed is planted for future yoga teachers. We are inspired by a teacher. As I listened to Dorothy, something stirred in me. I saw a glimmer of hope in Dorothy’s story–the possibility that health, happiness and even longevity could be mine.
That first yoga class was so much fun for me! Dorothy did something that as a yoga teacher now I would never do with a raw beginner. She encouraged us to stand on our heads. Up I went. I stayed up with perfect balance. The tumbling child and teen-age gymnast in me came alive. If the truth were told, so did the show-off. It was going to take years of yoga practice to tame the attention-seeking me.
However, in the beginning especially, I discovered doing physical yoga was something I could shine at. I needed that confidence boost.
I wasn’t able to continue the YMCA classes so I bought Richard Hittleman’s book, Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan.
Then I did something that I’ve rarely heard any replicate. On 3 x 5 cards, I wrote down stick figures of poses from the book, along with their names. Then, I was able to put the cards together in different sequences, although I wouldn’t have called them that at the time.
That was it. I was off and running, so to speak. Through thick and thin, major surgeries, cross-continent moves, marriage break-ups, and all the stages of a long life, yoga has been my constant companion.
Has my practice changed? Of course! And that is the absolute beauty of yoga–its breadth and depth and malleability. If you’d like a peek at what my practice is like now, check out this link.
Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga. Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.
Please send me feedback about the book. I’d love to hear about any errors or problems with eBooks on various devices. And please review the book wherever you get it. Reviews will help more people discover the book.
The Previous 3 Posts
At the beginning of 2020, I took on a powerful resolution: I would do a daily loving kindness meditation. I love this practice as a way of healing not just me, but all beings and the planet too. It’s a way of expanding the field of love and kindness on the planet. Never was it a more necessary practice than right now.
I wish I could tell you what is so attractive about our women’s reunions. As they say, you’d have to be there. And be there over years and years as layers of trust and love are built. I can describe how our meetings make me feel: like a swim in the gentle and warm waters of a tiny sheltered bay. The reunions feel healthy and refreshing. Together we women create a pool of energy that we continue to dip into long after the reunion has finished or the ‘leave meeting’ button has been pushed.
One of the blessings of this quiet Corona Time is my long-established yoga practice. I’ve always thought of my yoga practice as an investment, as good as superannuation. Nearly 50 years of practice, and I can call on my investment deal with the stress of self-isolation. There are other solid regular rituals, too: walking on the beach, dinner with my housemates, phone calls to the kids and to my family in the States.
I know, I know. Yoga teachers all want to teach remotely. I’ve been no exception. Here are some video and audio productions that I’ve made. Not many – it’s something that I alway mean to get around to.
No, I’m not selling yoga mats or clothing. I don’t even have a t-shirt… yet. But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want. Have a look, I’m never sure what you’ll find.