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Can I Do Yoga? (First published in Sept '21 by affiliate partner

This is what I was asking myself back in the spring of 2018. But let me start further back…...10 years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and degenerative spine disease. And then 3 years ago, I experienced my 2nd prolapsed disc in my cervical spine resulting in bundles of prescribed pain killers, steroids and other awful stuff with horrid side effects. Fast forward to right now and I’m in week 2 of a 200 hour Yoga applied Anatomy & Physiology Diploma. Yikes.

I went to my first yoga class ever, at a gym in Cairns, Australia in 2005. It wasn’t yoga as I know it now; there were no breathing techniques and the warm up poses were in fact Tai Chi. It took a few sessions to get into it and every time I looked up, the rest of the class appeared to be moving gracefully and harmoniously, whilst I, on the other hand, appeared to be back to front and inside out. After sticking with it for 6 sessions or so something ‘clicked’ into place and I felt that eureka moment; I began to synchronize my breathing with the movements and my God, it felt so good! Probably because I didn’t look like an idiot for the first time since being there.

Upon hearing the news that a second disc had prolapsed but this time trapping a nerve in its wake, I was advised that I had 2 options. 1. Long term physiotherapy or 2. Surgery. I chose my own option 3. Yoga. Because of it’s known exemplification of strengthening and conditioning the body. Only this time, I went to a real yoga class.

Recently, I spoke with a colleague who advised that they ‘couldn’t do yoga’. I asked why not. They advised they weren’t flexible enough. Armed with the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the past 3 years I gushed on to inform them that yoga is not just an exercise; it’s not about being thin, or flexible and you don’t have to super fit or flip upside down or twist and shout (not like the previous gym days anyway) to experience it. I could say for example, “I sat on my mat with my coffee this morning, I took some deep breaths in and exhaled some long, deep breaths, simply feeling present in this moment. And I did this for 3 minutes or so……. Then I made some positive affirmations for the day and then I was done. This was my yoga practise, for this morning” And can you believe it- they didn’t believe me! Oh my word, I feel like I have a lot of work to do as this newly fledged yoga teacher here in the West.

But then I must not be so hasty to judge because I used to think the exact same thing. I was apprehensive in my first few real yoga sessions. There was incense burning in the background, the faint twings and twangs of Indian sitar music, drifting dreamily through the air from a bluetooth speaker. There was an atmosphere of quiet calm, some people already lying prostrate on their mats, eyes closed, others in quiet conversation also on their mat. The class began with us lying down with instructions to close our eyes and to ‘connect with our breath’ (Am I not already connected? How am I breathing??). There was a good 10 minutes of this lying around and deep breathing before movement was introduced. A deep connection with my own body was received and thus began this wonderful dance of mind, body and spirit integration they call Yoga.

In Affiliation with Neitiv, the creator of coconut flower beer. Featured on The Dragons Den 2022.

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