After my most recent challenges of walking and dancing, I was quite glad to have a day of yoga in the diary for today. A chance of some calm time to reflect whilst stretching my aching body sounded just the ticket!
The last time I did yoga was when I was pregnant with my now 13-year old son, Owen. I used to affectionately refer to it as ‘Yoga for Elephants’, and my most vivid memory of the classes was lying on my back with my legs ‘walked’ up the wall (quite a relaxing state with a big pregnancy bump), only to find when we were told to come down, that I was stuck!! Nevertheless, the breathing and relaxation techniques we learned were invaluable during labour.
Today’s yoga was a one-day class combining poses, breath work and relaxation. The teacher was Mary Madhavi (yoga-in-cardiff.co.uk) and the yoga studio was located at Bridge Cottage in Llanishen. It’s on a pretty busy road, sandwiched between a garage and a railway bridge. But as you go through the gate, you enter an oasis of tranquility where detachment from the hustle and bustle of the outside world is almost instantaneous. Bridge Cottage itself is a small stone Grade 2 listed cottage, and the garden is leafy, enclosed and peaceful. The yoga studio is a light and airy garden ‘cabin’.
Our first activity was a walk in the garden, just to still our minds and attune to our surroundings. After which, into the cabin and onto the mats. Introductions and then onto stretches. We spent the two-hour morning session working on basic yoga poses and talking about how stress and emotion manifest themselves in our bodies. I recognised the ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ poses and managed them okay. Some of the stretching was quite a challenge, especially since my arms still ached from pole + gym last week! We also did a shoulder stand, which was achieved by doing the ‘lie on your back, walk legs up the wall’ manoeuvre… which I’m pleased to say I didn’t get stuck in this time! A short meditation rounded of the morning, and it was time for lunch.
We had lunch in the cottage. Everyone had brought something to share… My falafels seemed meagre compared to the homemade soup, dhal and Victoria Sandwich contributed by some, but there we go…
After lunch, a chance to rest under blankets whilst Mary led a visualisation. I found some connection to the images of emptying a funnel of all my crap, cleaning it up and then all the crap starting to reappear and make its way back into the funnel. (In fact, I think I’m experiencing the funnel-filling as I write…). We followed this by some peer massage, which involved stretching the neck and shoulders and applying pressure to the face. Much more pleasant than it sounds! Then on to breath work, including single nostril breathing, abdominal breathing and quite a lot of chanting, which I have to admit I don’t feel particularly comfortable with. Finally, Mary imparted some teachings about kindness and compassion, and after a group hug (no, not really but I was beginning to worry there would be!!!!) it was time to depart.
So, what did I think?
Well, I enjoyed the poses in the morning and was surprised that Mary thought me fairly supple… not sure I agree. I enjoyed the setting and the calmness. I am a little reserved about being touchy-feely with people I don’t know, so the parts of the day that involved that, along with the chants and singing, were not really my thing. I’d like to do more, but I’m not sure the entire yoga philosophy is quite my bag.
Thank you Ceri for joining me in putting aside the ‘shit’ for a day and to all the class ‘regulars’ for welcoming us.
And here, because I didn’t remember to take any pics at the class, is my attempt to remember ‘downward dog’!
[40 down, 10 to go… almost there!!]