My Yoga Teachers

I first remember my mother going out to attend her yoga classes when I was about eight years old. Sometimes I would see her doing her own practice at home in the mornings and sometimes I would join her and copy what she did. It was fun and I was a bendy child so it was like a really entertaining game to stretch and see what asanas I could get into. My friends and I would often spend playtime seeing if we could do various contortions and thought it was great fun.

The asanas my mother would do were quite “simple” and included none of the more advanced ones we see in class. I know she also spent time doing pranayama and her practice always included sitting quietly in meditation at the end. So throughout my childhood it was just normal that yoga should be part of your life.

When I was entering my teens we had a new teacher and her husband was a Brahmin from Madras, who had practiced yoga in a very disciplined way from childhood. His name was Narasimham and he was persuaded by some of the students to teach us yoga in the mornings before school. I was terrible at waking up but I loved the feeling after the class so one of my friends would kindly come by in the morning to knock on my window and wake me up. We would take our straw mats and quietly walk to school in the dark where we would place the mats in a circle in the playground and begin following our teacher.

We never spoke during the sequence, and we did the same sequence every time. Each pose would be held for some time and the whole routine would take about an hour. I think we only did about 15 asanas and depending on the time of year the sun would rise either just before or when we were in Savasana. It was wonderful to hear the birds singing and feel the warmth of the sun creeping slowly over us, with the sounds of people getting up and starting their day drifting on the breeze.

I can’t remember how long we did those morning sessions for (months? years?) but they are seared in my memory with a feeling of peace and great contentment. I can still hear his voice as he would talk us quietly through Savasana…”relax your toes…. relax your ankles…. relax your shins…” etc.

Afterwards I would float home to have my breakfast and get ready for school and although at the time, sometimes before the class (or the night before!) I would be reluctant to go and wish I could stay in bed instead, I was always happy afterwards. I will always be grateful to have had that very special experience.

For many years yoga was something that I would do on my own at home. Not really in any formal way but I would do the same asanas I had learned from Narasimham and I often felt a physical need to stretch my body and return to some of the asanas. I didn’t do any classes for a long time but my mother gave me a cassette tape (remember those?!) called Yoga With Marie which I used for years. I would turn it on and go into my own little world with this soft Scottish voice guiding me through a sequence. When I lived in Hong Kong and Tokyo and in the early days when I didn’t know many people it was a solid rock that formed an important part of my day but it was always just me and the tape and I think it was when I started practicing mostly with my eyes shut. I don’t know why but it is just more comfortable that way, or with gazing but not seeing. It helps me focus on what I am hearing and makes listening to my body easier. Sadly I lost the tape at some point – wish I still had it!

I found some yoga classes in France when we moved there and it was hilarious as I had to work very hard – the classes were in French and I didn’t speak any. I had to keep my eyes open and see what the other students were doing to copy them. I didn’t find it as rewarding as practicing with verbal instructions.

When I was pregnant with my first child we moved to the UK and I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful teacher called Carole Rolls. She was so centred and gentle as well as being extremely kind. Her ante-natal yoga classes were such a joy and I managed to attend them through some of all three pregnancies. When I wasn’t pregnant I would sometimes go to her “normal” classes and she invited me to a couple of yoga seminars. She was very encouraging about my studying to be a yoga teacher but I wasn’t ready and it wasn’t the right time so I never really followed up on the information she kept giving me. I couldn’t see myself teaching yoga and was occupied going along the path of energy work and healing through touch – she could see me teaching though and had more faith in me than I had in myself!

In Singapore I was fortunate enough to meet a great teacher called Shivangi – she really pushed me and it was interesting to finally meet some more challenging poses – though it felt a bit like playing again and not really yoga. More recently I met Jyoti who had just finished her training and was conducting free classes at my childrens’ school – her classes were full of joy and smiles and I began to feel that i wanted to train too – to get more practise and immerse myself in yoga but also to learn about it beyond asanas – as well as how to teach it well.

So here I am – at Tirisula!

I am thankful to all the people who have come into my life and been part of my yoga journey, and so grateful now to have the opportunity to learn more, practice more and have a better understanding of myself, my body and my life so I can be more aware of how I can help others and live a better life myself.

 

200Hr 2014

Caramaya