In search of lightness of being

Today I am not so much walking as bouncing. I do tend to bounce when I’m particularly happy, but I have been lacking the time, energy, and simple lightness of being to bounce for what feels like half a lifetime. So what’s special about today? I finally went back to yoga, for the first time in nearly 4 years.

Aaah! Yoga! Tomorrow it may well be more a case of “Aaagh! Yoga!” as various unfamiliar muscles announce their presence in no uncertain terms. But it is totally worth it. Today I have been forcibly reminded of the benefits of taking care of your soul.

It’s so easy in the hectic chaos of life to forget to make space for the things that feed your soul. Coffee with friends, a chance to sing, reading a good book, going to a concert, walking in the sunshine – whatever it may be, it’s easy to put it last on the To Do list, and even to let it fall off altogether. In doing so, we forget that it’s impossible to shine at anything unless you take the time to put that shine back on your soul.

I have been lucky for the last few years to spend a few hours every weekend walking with a dear friend. Those walks have been small islands of calm and sanity in a chaotic life. They are excellent food for my soul. Sadly (for me) my friend is away for a few weeks, so I have been forced to look elsewhere for my weekend physical and mental escape. Now I remember why yoga kept me hooked for years, back when my time and energy were under less pressure. Of course, the irony is that yoga is the kind of thing that actually gives me more energy – it’s a “spend energy to make energy” kind of deal – but sometimes it’s still hard to persuade myself that I have time for it.

What’s so wonderful about yoga? There are lots of aspects to this particular yoga class that I have never found anywhere else. The key, though, is the instructor, Roman. I first met him years ago, when I tried my first ever yoga class, more or less at random, at Monash. Those classes were packed out, and I soon learnt why. Roman teaches a particularly vigorous style of yoga called Yoga Synergy.  It is, as he puts it, “a very physical form of yoga”, and it is incredibly hard work – yet people were coming back twice a week, every week, with the fervour of addiction. Yes, the endorphins are good, but there’s more to it than that.

Roman is definitely one of nature’s sparkly people. Everyone who walks through the door of his classes immediately feels like an honored guest – the person Roman was just waiting for to make the class complete. Throughout the class, as we struggle with unfamiliar poses and twanging muscles, his enthusiasm and encouragement always seem to get more out of us than we thought we could possibly do.

Today, when I fell out of a particularly challenging pose, Roman grinned at me and commented that I obviously had a wobbly mat. Even when I’m being hopelessly clumsy and uncoordinated, he manages to make me feel as though I’m doing really well. Sometimes I get frustrated as I hit my limits, and Roman always manages to make me smile, encouraging and guiding me past those limits as though they never existed.

Yoga itself is brilliant for my body – coaxing my back out of its habitual banana shape and back into something an osteopath would actually recognise as roughly spine-shaped – and generally toning and training my muscles to work the way they are supposed to. The endorphin rush from a good yoga synergy session is spectacular, and when it’s matched by Roman’s humour, encouragement and warm greeting, it’s a buzz like no other.

Yoga is also wonderful for helping me to switch off. Lately I’ve been having trouble calming down from a hectic schedule. When I’m doing yoga I am thinking of nothing but how to achieve the current pose, and all the stress and worry I arrived with gets left at the door. Often I neglect to pick it up again on the way out.

So that’s why I bounced home from yoga today, and why my back remains straighter than it has been in an alarmingly long time. I stopped going to yoga when Roman left Monash and opened his own studio, because his classes were much further away, and I just couldn’t find the time to get there, do a class, and get home again. My “me-time” was taken up walking with my friend, and I didn’t see how I could fit in yoga as well.

I now realise I need to do both – to keep walking with my friend, and to make it to yoga regularly. Time is a small price to pay for that lightness of being and straightness of back. Starve your soul and you begin a long, slow, downward spiral. I suspect that if you can make the time to nurture your soul, everything else will fall into place.

What do you do that feeds your soul?

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