My Yoga Story by Jeannette
I first fell in love with yoga when I was a first-year university student in Hamilton. The class was at the YMCA and the yoga teacher was a little lady, who seemed incredibly old, very thin and very flexible. Looking back, she may have been younger than me, now but as a 17-year-old, I held her in extremely high esteem – in fact, I revered her. She told us that years ago, she had been told she had a terminal illness. After surgery she had only part of one lung left and lived mainly on fresh juices and many years later, when I started her classes, she was still alive and running huge classes.
Back in the 70s it was common practice when pregnant to join in with a general yoga class. I am not sure there was a thing as a special pregnancy class. I did yoga until birthing and had a great pregnancy.
Somehow, yoga did not feature in my life after that for quite a while because back then there were no online classes. I did not know of any retreats or yoga classes. I just remember doing lots of shoulder stands and poses of tranquility in my bedroom before bed at nighttime.
Yahoo!, I found a yoga teacher in Kerikeri. Back to yoga to classes once a week. This continued over the decades.
When we came to Waihi Beach in 2001, we received regular massages and I attended yoga classes with lovely Kim Jesney. Kim had trained with Shantimurti, Atma and Alinta at Parnell. I felt inspired and decided to train as a yoga teacher to learn more about the philosophy of yoga.
For the last 15 years I have regularly taught yoga; have enjoyed training in yoga therapy in Kerala, India; trained in yoga for children; laughter yoga; pregnancy yoga; post-natal yoga; run retreats, attended workshops, yoga festivals, meditation retreats at Ohui; ayurvedic retreats in Auckland, Matakana, Sri Lanka; studied Ayurveda in Kerala, India. My treat when visiting other areas is to attend yoga classes there and have done so in Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Chiang Mai.
In hindsight, I see that yoga is for life. Generalising, I think younger people go for ‘hard out’ yoga because they can; new parents prefer relaxation, meditation and more restorative yoga to find space for themselves; in mid-life it is more about yoga to cope with bodily changes and stressful times; and as we get older, yoga is about maintaining our flexibility, strength, balance and generally feeling positive and happy. No matter what age, yoga helps us to connect with our own bliss.
Yoga for older people is now for me and where my yoga teaching is at. I call it Gentle Yoga because we still get a good stretch, play with balances, learn different breathing practices, hold some poses to build and maintain our strength, and learn to relax completely. But gentle yoga is also about honouring our body, our past injuries, our present health projects and how we are feeling on the day. It is about my being there for those in my classes to care and love them. And I deeply appreciate how my current class has been doing yoga with me for years.
I love the way yoga is a holistic science – way more than an exercise like Pilates, running, etc. Yoga relaxes our mind and body which is so relevant to today’s stressful world.
It is my hope that yoga is practice for what really happens in daily life – how we breathe; how we self-talk; ensuring our inner landscape is peaceful and calm, so when we come to adversities, we feel we can deal with them resolutely.
This is my yoga story.