I am, I confess, a Type A personality; competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient. So Yoga has never really appealed to me; all that steady breathing and doing things slowly! But a rather nasty accident a couple of years ago has taught me some degree of patience. Learning to walk again took six months of physiotherapy. While I am now mobile, I am not very flexible, so when I was offered a one-to-one yoga session at Chewton Glen Spa I thought I would give it a try.
Before the session, I spent the morning relaxing in the spa, especially the hyropool and sauna which helped to warm my muscles and limbs. My personal yoga teacher was exactly as I expected; slim, elegant and very calm. She teaches beginners yoga, so was able to understand my struggles to reach each yoga pose.
My teacher listened patiently to all the things I said I could not do; sit on the floor, get up and down from the floor, lay flat on the floor, turn my head from left to right and so on. She then simply suggested that we make a start and see what I could do. That first bit of positive thinking was gently tossed my way, and to my surprise I caught it.
I sat on the yoga mat -- not quite cross legged, rather more ‘cross-ankled’ -- but at least I was down on the floor.
My yoga teacher then talked me through some basic poses and stretches, inviting me to do as much as I was comfortable with. Her voice was steady and reassuring. Since I had her total attention, and there was no one else watching (or to be competitive with!) I was able to focus completely. Gradually I began to self-correct my position, copying my teacher as she showed me how to do a basic sitting asana or stretched her arms up into a sun salutation.
As I relaxed, I felt able to do more, so we moved onto twisting poses; a real test as I have metal clips holding my lower back together. The yoga studio was quiet and private, with the sun streaming in from a high up window. And I began to slow my breathing and consciously relax and enjoy the process. It felt like taking my brain out of gear and just letting it idle for a while.
When I was asked to lie down on the mat on my front, I had a quick panic. Last time I tried that I could not get up again! However, this time I was more relaxed and able not only to lie down, but to gradually and carefully bring my feet towards my hands. I ended up in a not very elegant version of the ‘downwards facing dog’: a classic yoga pose that I never dreamt I would be able to achieve.
By the end of the session I was calm, relaxed and hooked! My teacher suggested that I find a local teacher who offers ‘restorative yoga’. I did not know such a thing existed, but I am going to add this to my daily exercises, regular physiotherapy and gym sessions. And not only for the flexibility it developed in just one session, but as much for the sense of calm and peace that I found I enjoyed.