Updated: Mar 9, 2019
I have found a new yoga teacher. The joy of having someone else tell you how to move without having to think about it is not to be underestimated. And also, to be honest, because we all need someone to put us in our place when we become smug.
You see, after decades of practice, my particular type of smugness is that I somewhat falsely believe I am in control of my Yoga Ego. I don’t go into the full posture if I have another hour to go in class. And I truly have not felt the need to show off my immaculate headstand in the middle of a room, because my neck vertebrae don’t like it (I use a feet-up chair at home).
Truthfully though, it seems I have developed a bit of a yogic sweet tooth. I like a luxurious stretch, the lovely flow that is more of a dance, and a long and deep relaxation. I love to quote that the ultimate goal of yoga is to observe things accurately - what place better to observe, if not a comfortable meditation cushion? It turns out, the one minute hold in bound side angle pose is just as effective.
The Woolwich Arsenal, which served for the last couple of hundred years as a base for the British artillery, carrying out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research, seems an unlikely place for a yoga studio. But it is now a trendy place to live and work, and I like to think of its existence as the universe’s way to put things back into their right order.
The studio is fully booked each Sunday morning, and daughter #1 and I tend grab mats at the opposite end of the room - it’s my practice, and my mum radar needs to stay turned off for the next hour. The style is Sri Mittra's Dharma Yoga, a devotional practice that emphasises good health, a clear mind and a kind heart. The crowd is mostly young, professional, and sporty, a good mix of women and men. Joao, who seemingly has rubber vertebraes, endless reserves of strength and an infectious enthusiasm for his yoga, starts the class with chanting, and everyone joins in as best as they can.
As a teacher I am a rubbish student. I cannot help to see what my fellow yogis are up to, and silently will them to stop binding or bending into misaligned postures that need a different body shape or more practice. Not surprisingly many are completely exhausted half way through the 75 minute class.
My absent yoga ego is quite helpful here, and I try to find a happy medium. While Joao takes us through a strenuous and simultaneously releasing flow practice with long holds, he gives us the opportunity to let go of the need to make decisions. Now we have the luxury to listen to our own bodies, experiment with our edge and ability, to challenge and release. At home, I would have been in a supine twist after 15 minutes. Instead my crow is coming along nicely, and I find myself in my third shoulder stand at the end of class.
This one class is enough to reset me for the rest of the week. It helps me to be a better teacher, to challenge myself a little more in my daily practice, and above all to appreciate that my body indeed needs a lot more maintenance than it used to. That is probably the real reason I have become a bliss hunter. It’s hard!
To maintain flexibility and bone strength is the one and only way to always, now and in the future, stay connected to the world around us. But not just for me: daughter #1 is a growing teenager, and her joints, muscles and tendons experience compression as her bones grow first. That weekly challenge is of priceless value for her future health, even if she doesn’t want to know it yet.
At the beginning and end of each practice we both use this soothing oil blend to support our joints. We also soak in a muscle relaxing bath with Epsom Salts and a few soothing drops of Deep Blue on the same day. And, of course, a cup of soy hot cocoa and a chat after class doesn’t go amiss either - it’s not just dem bones that do well with a little TLC.
To learn how to support your bones naturally, click here to arrange a wellness consultation.
To practice with Joao Rodrigues, visit The Yoga Space London - see you on a mat near me soon.