WHY YOGA Bill Walsh
My first yoga class was almost involuntary as a friend had insisted that I join her as she was concerned as to “where I was at”. My mother and sister had not long passed only a few months apart. Knowing I needed something, I dragged myself along. For 40 mins of that class I was in great physical pain as I was instructed into one contortion after another. If anything, yoga was increasing my distress. With 15mins to go, we laid down and began a breathing exercise, inhale hold, exhale hold. Each of the 4 components held for equal time. After a time, we let go of the exercise and moved into relaxation. Something very deep happened in this space. At the end of the class, I walked out and signed up for a beginner’s course.
The one practise suits all approach at the school I studied and eventually taught at, kept me in and out of pain over the next 3 years as my body opened. 5yrs on and after a major operation for cancer, I found everything I had learnt useless. I couldn’t raise my arms. What use were postures now. When I began teaching again, I felt fraudulent but still had a strong belief in yoga. After much soul searching, I come across T.K.V. Desikachar, son of the father of modern yoga, T. Krisnamachrya.
Yoga must adapt to the individual or the yoga serves no purpose. T.K.V. Desikachar.
I found a teacher in Melb who was a 20yr student of T.K.V. and began a yoga that related to my insightful experience found in that first class. I spent the next 2yrs with Barbara Brian furthering my already 4yr teacher training with an in depth study of the Yoga Sutra.
When the mind moves,the breath moves. When the breath moves, the body moves.
When one is anxious, the mind rapidly fluctuates. The breath becomes short (upper chest) and the body tight. Relaxed, the breath is long (belly moves), body supple and mental fluctuations decrease. It is the breath that moves us through flight or fight as for rest and restoration.
With this in mind, what is the point of a yoga practice? Too stretch? Too sweat? To relax and forget about the world for a while?
I believe we all come to yoga for different reasons, therefore it only makes sense to have a vast range of approaches. To move quickly through a vinyasa flow requires a shorter breath and has many benefits as does a static practice. A slower practice will require a longer breath, arguably providing more space for observation. I also believe that a practice should balance these two aspects of breathing. Rest and restoration is as important as activity. It’s crucial to our nervous and hormonal systems in maintaining good health. It is the breath that determines where we are physiologically at any given moment.
Whichever approach one takes to yoga, as long as you’re doing it, I say. A practice will change as the individual changes.
After all the time I have spent now engaged with yoga, whether the student or the teacher, it still never ceases to surprise me and inform me. Just as it did in that first class.
Enjoy your practice.
Through yoga and massage we believe you will have an improved physical and mental state. A state of wellbeing.
Falls Creek Retreats
Falls Creek, Victoria 3699
Tel: 0410 326 996