Friday 9th June – why do I do yoga?

 

I started doing yoga about 20 years ago. I had been into martial arts but was getting a bit bored, but I knew I’d need something to do instead rather than become completely inactive. I’d always enjoyed the stretching part of some martial arts and decided to give yoga a try.

I went to a few different classes and different teachers to begin with. I can remember being the only man in a room full of about 30 female students in a class in Redland. And some thoroughly enjoyable lessons in a church room in Bedminster. But, as much as I was enjoying these lessons, there was still something missing. That’s when I found Yoga Bob.

Yoga Bob – or Bob Phillips – was my first teacher in the Iyengar style of yoga. I was hooked from the first lesson. I loved the discipline, the challenge, the hard work. It was very hard at first. Nearly everyone was fitter, stronger and more supple than me. They were doing poses I couldn’t do at all and I’d been doing yoga for nearly 2 years by this point!

Little by little I improved. My stamina improved, as did my flexibility and, importantly, my tolerance of pain! Holding intense forward bends like Uttanasana for minutes at a time was something my body and mind just wasn’t used to at the start, but gradually things changed.

Since then I have tried classes in other styles of yoga but I find nothing as satisfying as a good Iyengar class.

It’s this experience that I try to recreate for the people who come to my classes. My teaching qualification isn’t in Iyengar Yoga, that is hopefully something for the future. But it’s this style that has the most influence on what I teach and how I teach it. I must admit, however, that it’s useful not be restrained by any particular style or method.

There are lots of other reasons to do yoga and ways you can benefit. I think it’s a good thing simply to do something which is good for you. Looking after yourself by doing regular exercise is good for mind and body. Although yoga isn’t a team sport, it is an activity done in a group so it can be quite social. We can all become trapped in work and home routines so it’s good to be able to get out and do something by yourself for yourself.

There are many benefits of asana and pranayama and meditation. In general they help you become stronger, fitter, more flexible, more relaxed. However, it’s not a digital thing. It’s not like you can go to 1 class and instantly feel better. To feel the benefit of yoga takes time and regular practice. I’d say at least 3 months. But, you may find that once you start to see and feel the difference it makes that you don’t want to stop. I certainly don’t want to!