Photography: Drew Corby
I’m not going to lie, I started yoga because I read Eat Pray Love and wanted to be that chick. Not Julia Roberts.
I used to lie in the classes thinking, bloody hell these yoga people talk a load of crap.
Feeeel into my body? Of course I’m feeling my body, I am my body, what are they on about? I’m just here to try and get sexy.
I spent most of the classes angry at the teacher for making me hold the pose.
And I was pissed I couldn’t reach my toes.
But I persevered because I liked the bit where you get to lie down at the end, and I wanted to be bendy.
A year later I started working on superyachts – hard, physical work, all day, everyday. (You wouldn’t imagine, but vacuuming the ceiling is actually very strenuous!) It wasn’t long until I realised that I had the back and hamstrings of an 80 year old, and yoga became a necessity to stretch out my angry muscles and ease the pain. As I became stronger and more flexible, the pain disappeared.
In time, I started to experience what the yoga teachers were on about. I felt calmer after doing yoga, and a lot less anxious and bitey.
Yoga doesn’t always make you look sexy! Photography: Drew Corby
It turns out that aside from looking bendy in your Lululemons,
yoga’s purpose is to calm the fluctuations of the mind.
It’s one of many steps used to calm the mind in preparation for meditation.
In the west it’s common for us to put a lot of effort into maintaining our physical appearance, but we don’t consider how we can maintain a healthy mind. It’s one of the reasons why the physical part of yoga (asana) has become popular, but meditation has taken a lot longer to break into the mainstream. But it’s well on its way in. More on that another day!
Even with just the physical practice of yoga, we get a sense of what it’s like to have your mind focus on your body, rather than the crap it’s conjured up that day. And this is becoming more and more necessary in our busy, stressful lives.
in terms of calming your mind; yoga, tai chi, and qigong have extra powers.
Your mind can still be going at a million miles a minute when you’re running or doing weights, but
when you’re balancing on your left leg with your right leg wrapped around it and your arms in a weird twisted cactusy position
(otherwise known as eagle pose), your mind doesn’t have much choice but to focus intently in on your body, and what all your limbs and breath are doing.
So yoga creates little gaps in your thinking, and these gaps get longer and more enjoyable with more practice. It feels bloody good to have a mind break!
So give it a shot. Your mind will thank you for it. Even if you spend most of the class pissed at the teacher and thinking about roast potatoes.