To whomsoever may happen upon this page...I thought that for my first post it would be a good idea to briefly recount how I first came to practice yoga.
I've always had a real interest in exercise and health, and I'd considered giving yoga a go for some years, but something had always held me back from taking the plunge and actually going to a yoga class. I think that something was probably the fear of my friends finding out, coupled with the prospect of completely humiliating myself in front of a room full of women.
I was also labouring under a serious misapprehension. I'd been a bit of a gym addict for years and my perception was that yoga classes would mainly consist of a lot of old women sitting around stretching. Although I did incorporate a few yoga poses given to me by a fitness instructor into my gym routines, I arrogantly thought that yoga wouldn't present enough of a challenge to someone who regularly lifted weights (how could I be so, so wrong?) and so I never got round to giving yoga a try out...how I regret now that I didn't try it years earlier!!
All this changed when I went on holiday to Goa with my girlfriend of the time (now my wife!). She had been practising yoga for some years and had often encouraged me to give it a try, but I never did. However, when we found ourselves in Goa with no gyms around and plenty of time on our hands I agreed to accompany her to a yoga class one morning.
To be honest, just getting to the yoga class was enough of a trial. On the short walk from the place where we were staying we were accosted by a terrifyingly aggressive dog that seemed hell bent on savaging us. I'd like to say I did the manly thing and stood firm to defend my woman but as it ran towards us bearing it's teeth I set off down the road at full tilt past a bemused cow and a nervous looking pig (I never have been a dog person) . It wasn't exactly the most relaxing of starts.
Anyway, eventually we made it to the class and it was to be something of a watershed moment for me. It didn't start off so well. As the teacher, bedecked head to toe in orange robes, opened the class with some chants I rather childishly got the giggles as I thought about what my friends would say if they could see me. This situation was exacerbated a few minutes later when he took us through a series of pranayama exercises - the expression on the face of the woman next to me threatened to tip me over the edge and I struggled manfully to stifle my laughter.
But then we moved into asana practice - and I stopped laughing. The postures that the yogi contorted himself into left me astounded - he'd been practising in the Himalayas since the age of 5 and he was nothing short of amazing - and as I struggled in vain to keep up it was possibly the most painful and challenging hour and a half of my life. But something clicked in me (metaphorically and physically)...I absolutely loved it and come the end of the class when he took us into relaxation it felt like my whole body was alive with energy. I was hooked.
The next morning was excruciating - I could barely move as I crawled out of bed, but armed with a stick and a bottle of water to fend off the hound from hell (running on this occasion was out of the question) I shuffled along to take on another class...in fact I think we went back almost every day for the rest of our holiday. It was to be the start of a very interesting and rewarding journey that I am yet but a few steps into.