As a teacher, I get a huge sense of satisfaction and pride in watching the yoga newbies progress week on week. At least 80% of the new class intake go on to become fully fledged yogis and make there way around the timetable, Paul, is just one example. I also recognise that just as the first step into the yoga studio is quite daunting, actually being released into the full timetable after graduation is another huge step. Next week Paul talks about Begin | Again, a class I developed to help all the new graduates ease into the timetable and also to ease those returning back in to yoga in a way that doesn’t feel intimidating. J. x
Yoga – My Journey | Week 4 | Graduation
by Paul Warner
I had made it to the final week. The studio was bathed in sunshine streaming through the tall windows. I distinct feeling of sadness arrived, my final lesson, what had happened to the reluctant yoga newbie that walked in week 1??
The lesson started in our seated position this week, legs crossed. This is a problem for me and I struggle with me knees in that position. Josie noticed, she always does, and reminded the whole group that we know our bodies and what feels good to find our balance, find what works. Eyes closed, breathing in for a count of four, then out for four. I felt my shoulders start to relax. I was back in that place, that sense of calm, that familiar smell – what even was that smell, I called it ‘smells like yoga’ and smiled to myself.
what had happened to the reluctant yoga newbie that walked in week 1??
From our tabletop position, this week we were stretching out our opposite legs and arms, how could just lifting my leg behind me be so intensive, then I remembered, I had done it slowly, with intention. Perhaps I have taken some of Josie’s words on board without even realising.
From plank now, sweep your right foot forward Josie said… err right, my version of the sweep was several small stumbling baby steps, apparently my core was supposed to be doing the work here but mine seemed to have gone awol. Always adjust, always check you position came the command. The point of this constant adjustment is to make sure the body is correctly supported before you start moving into the flow or pose.
From tabletop this time we went into child’s pose, breathing in, then stretching on the out breath. Right foot through, left foot through, up into forward fold… woah, we had gone into a faster sequence, up into halfway lift, this position feels good, it allows by back to straighten and feel strong. Arms all the way up, grabbing the energy and pulling down to hearts centre in a praying position. 4 weeks ago, I would have laughed at this idea, maybe even mocked, but now it all felt so normal.
4 weeks ago, I would have laughed at this idea, maybe even mocked, but now it all felt so normal.
Eyes closed or find your drishti point, which is a place just beyond your nose that you focus on very gently, something else I have learned.
Down onto tabletop again, up onto our toes, knees drawn towards our chest, then up into downward dog. There it was, that one yoga move I have heard of before. imagine a bar across your hips and you body folded over that bar in an upside down V shape, this description doesn’t do it justice but you get the idea. Down into half plank, wow, I could feel my belly muscles contract! “That’s nice Paul…” for a minute I had to think, was the teacher talking to me? Blimey, I glowed just a little bit inside…
Now we were asked to do a full on flow. Starting in mountain pose, hands to heart, drishti point, fire point, arms up, hands to sky, forward fold, halfway lift, forward fold, left leg back, right leg back, full plank, slowly down onto belly, up into cobra, back into downward dog. Bugger me, I had not only followed the flow but actually understood the cues without having to look up, it seemed very natural too. I didn’t want to get too carried away but I did let out a little giggle, I couldn’t help myself – get me!
Feet walked forward, slowly all the way up, arms to the sky, back into hearts centre, ujjayi breath so I could hear what my breathing was doing. Down onto our backs, hugging our knees, almost like a congratulations for getting this far. I found my self swinging my legs to the left and right, allowing my hips to rotate, mmmm this was definitely one I wanted to do at home. I rolled the bolster under my sacrum, raised my legs and sank into the bolster. There it was again, that weightless feeling.
Bolster rolled down under my knees, I was in shavasna. My tongue drifted to my fire point and I breathed in and out deeply through my nose.
A mantra was introduced, something to repeat in my head silently, So Hum, translated as I am That.
This position feels so damn good, it is like giving yourself time to listen to your body, your mind, your feelings and emotions. As Josie journeyed around us, offering a head massage and shoulder assist, I came to a realisation, something defining had happened over the last four weeks. I am not the most agile of people and to steal a phrase from Ross on Friends, I am carrying a little extra holiday weight, but, I had enjoyed this. I had seen some progress, I was able to move on cue. It wasn’t all about the moves for me, it was also about the wellbeing, the me time, the feeling of recognition that I was important and I need to look after me…
I can’t believe I just said that out loud. I need to look after me… so now it is your turn. You can sign up for the next beginners course right HERE