YOGA FOR SKEPTICS:
Despite skepticism, ridicule and general cynicism towards the practice of yoga, my recent adventure was actually very enjoyable. Growing up with a ‘hippy’ mum, I took a somewhat sarcastic view to anything, well, ‘good’ for you. From a combination of childhood rebellion and finding any way possible to annoy my mother, I would disregard whatever she said, and oppose any views or opinions she held. Being a hippy, she would always practice yoga and that eventually evolved into teaching her own classes. This was too good to be true, and soon became my favourite target for ridicule, which repelled me further from believing it had any benefits at all…
My class assignment was to 'pick a task, event or class that was out of my comfort zone, or that I hadn’t experienced before'. After long and hard consideration I decided to choose yoga. Yoga was convenient (as it was my mother’s class and was therefore free), it was suitably out of my comfort zone, and it was true that I’d never tried it before, so I thought, why not? I presumed I would have a lot to say about the subject, making reporting on it an easy task – no doubt ample grounds for a critical review dissuading anyone sane from attending a yoga class, ever.
I decided to ask a few of my friends to join me, for moral support. They rose to the challenge and immediately turned it into a competition (as men so often do) due to the fact they’d "been to yoga before and would show me how it’s done". After a few laughs and ‘digs’ I told them we’d just have to see who was the true yoga guru at the end of the class. This brought a serious tone back into the proceedings and it was every man for himself!
Up at the teenage crack of dawn, (9:30 am), we all threw on some ‘comfies’ and headed to yoga. As we entered we removed our shoes and reluctantly left our phones behind, as instructed, and sloped up to the main studio. The vast space was crammed wall-to-wall with spiritualists and hippies laying out yoga mats, massaging their feet and carrying out pre-class stretches. I don’t think it is possible for three bouncy young lads to fit in less than when we bounded into the room all filled with energy and charisma. Despite the odd scowl and disapproving look, nobody seemed too fussed by the three new lively additions to the class. We casually romped over to our designated yoga mats whilst everyone else (taking the class ever so seriously) was sitting, gazing, with perfect posture, completing their ritualistic prelims.
Oh great, I thought to myself, this is going to be a very long hour and a half!
Ignoring my companions and me, the class was taken very slowly; we completed various breathing exercises whilst being softly spoken to in a calm monotone that gently lulled the class into a state of deep relaxation. Although greatly appreciated, this proved a slight problem when it came to the more active part of the class as I had begun to drift back off to sleep, (exactly where I should have been at 10:00 in the morning in the holidays!) The carefully chosen postures were not overly complicated, as there was a wide variation of ages and body shapes & sizes in the room. I was more than pleased to find I could complete all the postures successfully and without too much strain, (unlike some of the Lycra-clad unfortunates situated directly opposite me.)
The experience, however, was a lovely contrast to my preconceptions of the class, much to my amazement (I’m glad to say) as I thoroughly enjoyed myself! It wasn’t the same thrill you’d expect from a bungee jump, or if you won the lottery. However, as we came out of the class there was a collective feeling of being chilled, fulfilled and, well - stretchy…As we wandered out, our minds and bodies were in a euphoric state. A similar experience to that of being five years old, sitting in bed being read a story by your parents as you gently drift off to the land of nod. Yoga is the hypnotic voice of a parent that leaves you feeling all snuggly and safe.
All in all, a positive experience and I’d love to go again! I thoroughly recommend it to anybody feeling stressed or strained or to somebody with a bit of spare time on their hands. It’s a great pastime and brilliant for your muscles & joints. Unless your ego is too big or you’re scared of being proven wrong, I suggest even you skeptics (like me) get up, and try it out. Going just once doesn’t hurt, I promise.
-Written by Ben Avison