So Richard starts the class and I’m thinking this is going to be uncomfortable and painful, to any tin man stretching equals pain, so I’m bracing myself and holding onto the thought of “do it for your footy career Brendan”
I still remember my first yoga class 22 years ago. I was then a sixteen year old going through puberty and along with all the usual changes that happen at that stage of life I also had been struggling with Scheuermann’s disease, a spinal condition of childhood resulting in the improper development and wedging of the vertebral bodies. (also known as Scheuermann’s kyphosis) It can be very painful and debilitating but this wasn’t the reason I had taken an interest in yoga. At the time I was playing a lot of rugby league and owned some of the tightest hammies going around. I’m talking tight, I was like a junior tin man and touching my toes was not an option. A family friend had noticed my inflexibility and recommended I take a yoga class. “Yoga, what’s that?” I asked “Stretching, it’s a stretching class isn’t it ” OK I thought, well I do need to get better at stretching, so why not give it a crack, it can’t hurt. I also thought it would be a good idea to con my older brother Mitch into coming along with me. He too suffered from tin man syndrome so surely he would benefit, he also had a car.
Upon arriving at the yoga class which happened to be in a primary school classroom, we were greeted by our teacher Richard, he was wearing a traditional monk style robe. This is going to be different, I thought and quickly noticed that we were the youngest in the class by about 30 years. I remember feeling totally out of my comfort zone and wondered what I had gotten myself into, but after a reassuring welcome, I felt like I was in a safe place.
So Richard starts the class and I’m thinking this is going to be uncomfortable and painful, to any tin man stretching equals pain, so I’m bracing myself and holding onto the thought of “do it for your footy career Brendan” He then explained that we will be practicing Satyananda yoga, which is a very gentle style of Yoga and focuses more mindfulness. From memory I don’t think we even did one sun salutation that day, all of the “moves” were very gentle mobilizations of the joints. We worked our way through the entire body from the toes to the head and I remember thinking, how is this going to improve my flexibility, we aren’t really even stretching!! Richard explained that the joints were where energy gets stuck in the body and we were to direct our focus into whatever part of the body we were moving at the time. I’d by now come to the conclusion that we were definitely in the wrong class. I must of missed the “seniors yoga” sign out the front and I’d ask Richard at the end when the real stretching class was on. Towards the back end of the class we were instructed to take up our relaxation position lying on our backs and prepare for yoga nidra. Obviously we needed to relax after our very strenuous yoga class and to be honest I was feeling super relaxed already but hey why not have a little lie down. What happened over the next fifteen minutes was life changing. I’m pretty sure Richard was put on this earth to guide yoga nidra, his deep smooth and monotonous voice had us all well and truly in the zone. I remember following his instruction to a point where I wasn’t quite sure where I went, but somehow as if by magic, when he brought us back into the room it was like my consciousness knew and came back right on que. I had the “what just happened” thing going on and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I actually thought I was going crack up laughing and was trying so hard not to. I had a sense that Mitch too was experiencing something extraordinary and I remember thinking don’t make eye contact with him or you will definitely lose it.
So the class finished with the obligatory Namaste, Mitch and I then floated over to pay Richard, being students this equated to $4 each and said we’d see him next week. Of course once outside we proceeded to crack up laughing and exchange stories of what we had both experienced. One thing was unanimous we were feeling amazing and couldn’t quite comprehend why!! On the way home we pulled in to a petrol station and I remember everything inside the store looked brighter than normal and crystal clear. Even though I didn’t think my stretching would improve, I’d be back for the yoga nidra.
So we returned week after week. We even moved on to sun salutations and as Richard said “If all you do is one sun salutation each day, your body will thank you for it” About a month down the track I could not believe I was touching my toes quite easily. These gentle mobilizations had actually had a huge effect on my flexibility but not only that, the pain I’d being living with from the Scheuermann’s disease had disappeared completely. Yoga had given me so much in such a small time frame and now 22 years later yoga is still a big part of my life. I carry with me, those early teachings………… sometimes the little things can had up to big things and even one sun salutation a day will have your body thanking you.
Thanks Brendan for sending this in !
Brendan Walters is a Yoga NRG Teacher completing his Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training Program and is looking forward to sharing Yoga with the community including his “Toolbox Yoga Talks” inspiring more Men like himself to get into Yoga. After all while wouldn’t you
Contact us for more info on Mindfulness Based Yoga Nidra Programs + Integrative Restoration email@example.com
* Our 500 hour Teacher Training includes Yoga Nidra Training