From mother to son, yoga’s great for all. By Jonathan Schofield
I started my yoga journey in a Swedish farmhouse surrounded by the glorious wilderness of the country’s Svartadalen region. I’d thoroughly recommend this to anyone: experienced yogis, or stiff, unyielding beginners like me.
Before I began the process of unravelling my knotted body on a mat each week, yoga had always been a bit of a mystery to me. As a young boy in the 1970s (it’s okay, I survived unscathed) yoga was a place my mum went to on a Tuesday night and was mocked and treated with disdain by my dad. “There’s no dinner tonight, your mother’s gone to yoga with her hippy friends.” He wasn’t known for being in touch with his feminine side and this yoga place was clearly somewhere to be sneered at.
For a long time I had no real concept of what yoga was. Then I discovered the small yoga book in our house. There was a lady from the 1970s in a brown leotard on the front cover. Occasionally, and then with increasing regularity, I would flick through the pages filled with more curvaceous women from the 1970s in brown, yellow and orange leotards. There was no internet back then.
Looking back I see why my mother, a head mistress at a tough school, disappeared for some solace every Tuesday night and would attend a retreat once a year, with hippy friends of course. I can’t prove that yoga was the fundamental difference, but my mother seemed to float through life in a state of continual calm, and still does today, while my father raged at life, the world, those around him, and died long ago.
As I rapidly close in on my father’s final age I feel an ever-greater need to continue practicing yoga. I now attempt to get to a class somewhere every week. At some point every day I try to fit in a few salutes to the sun as a minimum. My back begins to fill with quick-drying cement and my head with increasingly black clouds if I don’t.
I had no time for it during my 20s and 30s. How could exercise that didn’t make you sweat, or involve lifting heavy bits of metal be doing you any good? I’m over that now. I only regret that it took a bad back, knackered knees and a darkening mind to get me started.