Friday 12 April 2013

Yoga - remember it's only about you...

"It's not where you are in a posture, it's how aware you are in a posture" - I read this in a yoga magazine recently and I'm trying VERY hard to apply it as I contort my body into some new pose and resist sneeking a peek at my neighbour to see how they are doing.  Such simple words but boy, are they difficult to put into practice.

Photo: Marc Quinn

By our very nature, humans are competitive beings, we can't help it. We have to prove - whether to ourselves or to others that we can do it - whatever 'it' might be. Rock Boy at age 9 is supremely competitive and delights in nothing more than showing his younger brother just how well he can spell, climb, ski, whatever, and he hates it when 6 year old Captain Adorable comes back with something he can do just as well or perish the thought actually trumps his big brother at. So when I suggested to English Gent that he should accompany me to my Yoga class, he declared himself not really that interested at first, but then he wavered and said it couldn't be that hard, could it? No, said I, and anyway, it doesn't matter if you haven't ever done it before, you just do what you can, plus no-one's looking.... He was sold.

Yogattic Studio/Photo: Jane del Pozo

My inspirational (and extremely non-competitive) yoga teacher Nadine had suggested we could bring along our other halves as it was a Bank Holiday, so there were three men in our class that morning and it became pretty clear pretty quickly that the usual group dynamic had changed. We have a couple of regular men who attend classes but by keeping themselves to themselves and not playing the macho card, they've been assimilated into the group and know the mantra. Not so this particular morning.

Yogattic Class/Photo: Jane del Pozo

As if by osmosis - and of course we'd all have denied it - there was a collective intake of female breath and the unspoken determination that however tough things got, we'd show 'em how it was done. The wives were not going to give their husbands any leeway, no way.

Yogattic Class/Photo: Jane del Pozo

All credit to English Gent and his compadres, they threw themselves into it and found muscles they didn't know they had and discovered just how long a minute in dolphin plank can really last. But boy did they let us know about it - the sweat, the noise, the grunting and huffing and puffing - it was sheer joy to behold.

The Women's Room blog wrote an hilarious post about non-competitive yoga in West London that I cannot better, and we were very much with those ladies in spirit on that particular morning. I'm not ashamed to admit that yup, I did feel just a tiny bit smug when I flowed through my 'chaturanga' into upward dog without collapsing as the men realised that drawing on all their so-called strength still couldn't stop their arms from shaking and their thighs from screaming. By the end of it, Child's pose never looked or felt so good.

Nadine Nassif-Lips, Portrait by Jane del Pozo

But I have to hand it to them, the boys hung in there and if they were literally flat on their backs by the end of the class, (Savasana - corpse pose - took on a whole new meaning), there was a new found respect for the sisterhood - they knew we'd whipped their asses, fair and square - and that's a sweet feeling ladies, let me tell you. 


I asked English Gent if he'd come with me again and he said yes - so it looks like the competition challenge isn't over quite yet.  Namaste.

PS - All the photos of the Yogattic Studio and the beautiful portrait of my teacher Nadine were taken by my hugely talented friend Jane Del Pozo, who has recently set up her own photography website for sittings and commissions.


Nadine said...

You nailed it Juliette! I couldn't have described this better. Thank you for your consistent, dedicated and cheerful Self in class. Namaste Jules!

Juliette Chisholm said...

I have a great teacher... xx