Happy International Yoga Day, yogis and readers!
I was excited that my home studio was offering ‘bring a friend for free’ today to celebrate the occasion. Ordinarily this would have been a great opportunity for me to mix up my yoga with my social life and maybe introduce someone new to yoga. But I wasn’t at home this weekend, so I had to pass that up and find other ways to acknowledge and celebrate my yoga.
In fact I was lucky enough to be spending the weekend at a very different celebration — 30 years of the admission of women to my alma mater. Plenty in that worth celebrating socially, institutionally, and personally. Whilst I may have spent last night in some unyogic indulgence in food and drink, this was a fantastic opportunity to connect and celebrate (which could be what the ‘union’ of yoga means for me this weekend), and I talked myself hoarse catching up with old friends as well as meeting a whole load of intelligent and beautiful women from the first year admitted through to last year’s graduates. Conversation flowed freely — we all had one thing in common (a bit like being at a wedding) and that was enough for us to mix and mingle with one another in a very unBritish way!
Anniversaries of any sort (even newly-minted ones) are a great reminder to take stock, acknowledge the passage of time and the changes that brings, and give gratitude for what there is in the present. So whilst the whole College experience was wonderful and slightly nostalgic, I feel very strongly that the younger-me was not as happy and healthy as the today-me, and indeed several old acquaintances told me that I looked ‘happy and radiant’, so what girl of any age wouldn’t enjoy that and want to celebrate it?! Thank you Yoga for helping me find a way to become this version of me!
As if to push the point home so that I simply couldn’t miss it, the seating plan had me opposite a very recent graduate and fellow-ME sufferer, looking for her first full-time job and wondering how she will cope with the next phase of her life out in ‘the real world’. I gave her what thoughts I could from my own experiences, but for most of the conversation I felt awestruck by how controlled, confident, and able she seemed. I of all people should know how superficial that can be, but she outwardly displayed a very healthy acceptance of her disability that makes my frustrated battling and over-sensitivity seem very mis-conceived (or, to be fair to myself, the product of an earlier time when the illness was not at all understood and therefore I grew up with heavy prejudice — as a teenager, some of my friends’ parents wrote me off as a drug addict, since that was their only explanation for my pallor, erratic hours, and aberrant behaviour!).
But despite the excesses of last night, I couldn’t let International Yoga Day slip past without any asana practice at all, so I did roll out my mat at an unspeakable hour this morning, before my hangover had properly woken up, to do a short practice. And afterwards I played my new Nepalese singing bowl, feeling the vibrations in the palm of my hand and enjoying the sound I conjured from this simple object.
Afterwards I chatted with an ashtangi over breakfast who told me how she wished she’d discovered the practice sooner — and this from one who’s been practising some 10 years already. I used to feel that way (sometimes still do), but for now with these anniversaries and celebrations going on it was better simply to acknowledge that I found yoga (or vice versa!) exactly when I was ready for it and needed it.
If I can be happy and radiant today, that’s good enough: I can’t move on if I’m looking over my shoulder and I can’t breathe freely if I’m sighing with regret. I should remember that!