Health Ailments

On the path

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Eve finds her feet at the first weekend of her yoga course

Earlier this year, I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It’s a beautiful, gently-paced novel about an elderly man who sets off to post a letter to a dying friend, but instead of returning home, walks the length of the country to visit her in person. His child-like naivety is soon replaced with painful blisters and tattered shoes, but as the days melt into each other and one county dissolves into the next, he finds a way to connect to an inner rhythm that will guide and sustain him for the rest of his journey.

Last weekend, as I took my first, tentative steps towards becoming a yoga teacher, I began to get a sense of the territory I’ll need to cover over the next two years. We deconstructed poses, learnt the importance of strong foundations and even had a go at teaching on a one-to-one basis. We also discovered there’s a wealth of knowledge behind the simplest of instructions – one of the reasons you may be asked to ‘breathe into the back of your body’, for example, is because the back of your lungs have the greatest potential for oxygen exchange. It was a full and satisfying start to the course and, by the end of the weekend when teachers Mimi Kuo Deemer and Jean Hall asked how we were feeling, for me the answer was simple – humble, grateful and content.

Although we might not travel far on our yoga mat, we’ll still have plenty of challenging encounters as we come face to face with our stiff muscles and inflexible joints, our fragile or intractable egos… Having an anchor, a way to feel grounded in our authentic being, is immensely supportive, and one way to experience this is by returning to your breath. Slowing down the breath leads to a place of stillness that aligns your mind and body, and anchors you in the present moment.

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