Yoga

When I was in primary school there was a teacher called Miss Foley. I don’t know if I’m spelling her name right and I don’t have any way of checking but regardless, that was her name. Miss Foley had crazy, wiry hair that was just a big cloud of grey curls. She wasn’t that old but her hair way this purple kind of grey. I never had Miss Foley as a teacher but I liked her a lot. She used to offer yoga for sport.

For unsure, awkward, clumsy little me, kiddie yoga was pretty much the best thing since fairies (I liked fairies a lot). No longer did I have to go out and stand in the scorching sun for hours, only to fail to hit a baseball several times (seriously, you’d think the baseball being on a podium would make it easier to hit). Instead, come Wednesday afternoon, I would wander down to the staff room, we’d move all the furniture to the sides, and in the dark and cool we’d do yoga. At the end of the session there was a short meditation. I remember vividly the picture of a young Queen Elizabeth that hung between two of the windows. I liked Wednesdays.

Looking back, those afternoons were really important. I choose yoga basically every semester that it was offered, long after my friends stopped doing it with me. It was probably one of the first times I learnt that it’s better to be alone and happy than with friends and trying to hit baseballs. I have really vivid, nice memories of primary school sport. That is not a sentence someone like me should be able to utter.

When I was in high school I found out via someone that Miss Foley had breast cancer. She died a year or so later. I still think about this sometimes and it makes me sad. I think it takes you a long time to realise the effect that teachers have had on you, especially primary school ones. When you’re a kid you often don’t realise that change is happening because things change all the time, you grow out of your shoes every few months. It’s only looking back that you can see the teachers who really shaped the tiny little person that you were and by extension the bigger person you became.

About a month ago, I woke up one morning before work. It was early, too early to get ready, but instead of restlessly dozing for the next forty minutes I got up, got dressed and did yoga. Since then I’ve done half an hour of yoga or Pilates every day. Sometimes I get up early and do it, sometimes I do it after rage quitting my uni work, sometimes I squeeze it in before Friends repeats start at 6:30pm (boyfriend is currently addicted to Friends repeats). I’ve been using one of my mum’s old DVDs. It features a woman called Denise Austin. She has crazy eyes but I like her. I don’t have any dumbbells so for the weights part of the Pilates workout I’ve been using tequila bottles filled with water. This is surprisingly effective.

It’s easy to see yoga as a weird hippy thing. But I’ve been involved in a number of sports over the years (and yes, for the purposes of this post I am referring to yoga as a sport) and yoga is the only one that has never once had me feel inadequate. That’s saying something considering I can’t remember a time when I was able to touch my toes. It makes me feel good. I can push myself without having an asthma attack. I can do a T-stand now, which I couldn’t do a month ago and while I can’t reach my toes, I’m a lot closer to that than I was before.

There’s something about yoga that makes me feel good inside. There’s a tranquillity to the breathing and the movement. Denise talks a lot about “awareness of the body” and that sounds corny but I guess it’s true. When I was growing up, it was hard to keep track of all my limbs (you can tell because I hit them on things a lot). These days it isn’t so much my arms I lose track off. I think maybe there are other, more important things that yoga is helping me keep track of. And that’s nice.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year