Think you’re the world’s worst yogi? It doesn’t matter how long you practice, just make sure you get on that mat. By Lucy Cooney
I have just come in from my garden, having actually managed 20 minutes of yoga. This is actually quite good for me. Although we yogis are meant to spend hours connecting to the divine, I just don’t seem to be able to manage it anymore!
A very good friend dragged me along to my first yoga class five years ago. The discipline, the poses and the breathing got me hooked immediately. The class specialised in ashtanga which, among many other elements, is a cleverly constructed sequence of poses. Yogis are encouraged to focus on their breathing (ujjayi breathing, or ‘breath of fire’) and their bandhas (a series of internal energy gates which are regulated during the practice).
The married couple who run the studio welcome everyone into the ‘family’ and this atmosphere, as well as the classes, was a huge draw. I was hooked. I attended classes three times a week and practiced at home too. Ashtanga does succeed in making you incredibly fit, incredibly quickly. I found I could swim for hours while on holiday.
World’s Worst Yogi
However, life, as it has a habit of doing, got in the way. I made the decision three years ago to go from part time teaching to full time teaching…and how my yoga suffered as a result. I have put on weight, cannot walk or swim for long distances and attend classes only sporadically. I lost one yoga mat when I left it at a class and my other one sits rolled up in a corner gathering dust. I have become the worst yogi in the world.
And yet…such is the spell cast by this practice (it is not exercise, my yoga teacher had told me many times!) that I sometimes physically crave doing yoga. I long to hang upside down in downward facing dog and stretch every inch of me from my fingertips to the ends of my toes.
So, I force myself to make time. One ardent yogi once told me that any time on the mat is time well spent and I am inclined to agree. Having just done 20 minutes I feel like a different person. I have, by getting into different poses, had the chance to literally look at the world in a different way and from a different angle. The other advantage is the meditation at the end of the practice. The yogis of old used the asanas (poses) as a way of purifying their bodies so that they were ready to meditate. There is also something incredibly satisfying about having a little rest after you have sweated and laboured during your practice.
Maybe, after all, I am not the world’s worst yogi. I may not have two-and-a-half hours a day to spare but I do have some precious moments where I can breathe, stretch and meditate. Namaste.
Article from Issue 89 of OM Yoga magazine. Subscribe now to make sure you never miss an issue.