Why yoga?

During a recent gathering, the sociocreative trust members took a yoga class together. We were all overcome with the good feelings of wellness and strength that yoga brings, imbued with our own unique experiences and whatever we needed to get out of the practice that particular day. And so we wondered…what is it that draws us to the mat? Why yoga?

I turn up to the mat to access a space that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. Yoga seems to be a way of obtaining a sense of best self through moving the physical to transform the non-physical. This year in particular, I have relied on yoga and mediation for my peace and sanity. Even when things have been super hard and I am not actually on the mat I have thought about the mat to centre me.

Sometimes yoga means that I am lost on the wee purple island that is my mat, and no-one in the world knows where I am, and they will never find me and I’m very stretchy.  Sometimes it means that I am in dance class at the Royal Academy of Ballet and there is only two weeks until I debut as Giselle.  Sometimes it means that I am disgusted by the state of my toenails and distracted by the by the bowl of lentils bouncing around in my bowel.  Sometimes it means I am focussed and calm and strong and lithe. Sometimes it means I just can’t be arsed.  But I keep going back.  And soon I’ll be able to do a proper handstand, I hope.

When I am on the mat I know I am at home. I’ve been on the road or between homes for about two months now and it’s such a comfort to know that the yoga mat is a place that I have cultivated over the last couple of years. A place that is always there. No matter what town or studio I’m practicing in, the yoga practice is a where I come to rest within myself.

I love how different teachers show you something new about your body, yourself or a movement. Tweak the known poses and play with the new ones. And I think the practice is so special because you’ve always had that ability, it’s just opening your mind to the possibility.

Yoga practice is something that initially I begun as a gateway to ‘taking care of myself’. I began taking classes regularly at the gym at the university where I worked, then for about 18 months dipped in and out of classes. At moments where I haven’t had enough money I have done a home practice, earlier last year with youtube videos and this year building on routines I’ve learnt in classes.

During my trip to US and Canada I’ve been finding donation based or free community classes where possible. It’s been so enlightening to see what yogis in another country are doing. Slightly different but also the same and in some way a language that connects us all.

it’s hard for me to talk about yoga without sounding cliche. my mother used to do yoga but it was something in the background of all the other things she did, like lie under a sun-lamp or wrap her vaseline covered body in glad wrap before she went to bed. some kind of mysterious womanly thing that happened somewhere else.

when i was a teenager there was one yoga teacher in my town. she was town-famous and was a limber woman in her 60s who did classes once a week in her home studio. i went along to a class and never went back. it was quite advanced and she didn’t explain anything or offer modifications. it was more acrobatic and was about the teacher showing us all her yoga moves.

having an interest in occult practices as a teenager grew into exploring and researching all levels of theosophy and religion. i was always ‘in tune’ with some deeper spiritual sense of life and my study and research led me reading more about yoga. i was also exploring vegetarianism and passionate about caring for the environment and activism.

my early adult years meandered through various milestones, including marriage and becoming a (young mother), lots of study, making art and music, travelling and moving to melbourne put me smack bang in the middle of a place where i could access a variety of yoga classes.

ever since, over the past almost 20 years, i’ve been ‘doing’ yoga on and off and getting deeper into my studies. sometimes i’ve done yoga classes daily over periods of months, some times it has lapsed. i spent a couple of recent years trialling the intro offers of as many melbourne yoga schools as i could which is a great way to try out different styles and teachers. i’ve attend yoga retreat whenever possible and spent time this year in bali doing some teacher training.

i know what yoga means to me personally and it brings the grounding and basis for my life. i love the feeling i get simply when i make it to the mat. sometimes i feel like it’s a form of torture, but the exhiliration after a strong class keeps me high all day.

i could keep talking about it for pages but my only advice is try it yourself. and then let’s chat. i advise starting with 1–2 days a week over 30 days.

trust me. you’ll thank yourself afterwards.

Insights by sociocreative trust, image gemma on her birthday, taken by beck.