Did you realise that yoga is a journey?
My yoga journey started in 1990 when I was in my mid-20s. My mother went to yoga classes and encouraged me to give it a go when we were struggling with a family crisis.
In November of 1989, the UK had a flu epidemic. My dad went down with flu symptoms.
After a few days, it was clear something wasn’t right; but the doctor confirmed the flu.
A week later he was getting worse. After a difficult weekend and a few call-outs, Mum got a locum doctor.
(Remember the UK was in an epidemic and doctors either had case overload or flu themselves).
This Doctor took one look at Dad and called an ambulance, saying this was more than the flu.
Turns out it was Legionnaires Disease
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are like the symptoms of the flu:
high temperature, feverishness and chills;
headache; and leading on to
Diarrhoea and signs of mental confusion
Legionnaires’ disease is not known to spread from person to person. Mum never did catch it or the flu.
Dad was a smoker but fit and healthy and lead an active life.
What followed was 16 months of hell for him and us.
Whilst He remained in the hospital the whole time having been moved early on from the local hospital to a London hospital.
During this, He developed kidney failure, liver failure, and ICU psychosis.
He died aged 56 after 16 long months of being very very sick.
Leaving my Mum a widow and me with a completely different view of life.
I was living in Faversham at the time with James and we were coping with his life-changing injury too. His pain and distress were all consuming and we had a new large mortgage and full-time jobs.
To say that stress levels were high would be an understatement.
Somewhere along the line, Mum suggested I find a weekly yoga class for some “support”.
My first teacher was Ruby Lawrence. Running her classes in her home – the old gardeners’ flat on the Mount Emphraim estate.
She was the most beautiful, kind person in my life at that time. She had a small class and she made us all feel so loved and safe and understood. Looking back I didn’t realize what she did for me at the time.
After a long day at work, I would relax on my blue yoga mat and try different postures. At first, it was challenging for me to understand how my body moved. Why couldn’t I perform certain movements?
I didn’t realize that my fatigue was not physical, but also mental and emotional.
But Ruby did.
Often she would leave me on the mat, crying. She would cover me up and place her hands on me.
No words, no judgment, no trying to fix me.
She let me release the tension. Some weeks I’d be moving and pulling the shapes like a world-class Indian yogi, and others I wouldn’t.
The journey continued.
Ruby had a boyfriend Robert Parry. In about 1990 or 1991 he decided he wanted to teach tai chi. The obvious people to market to were Ruby’s friends who came for yoga.
Most of us signed up for Faversham Adult Education and started our Tai Chi journey.
This moving meditation suited me. Standing up waving my arms around and swaying kept my mind busy. For many years Robert made me stand at the back as I did it all too fast, such was my stress and natural energy. I had a complete lack of understanding about deep breathing and slowness.
And so, my life of hospital visits at weekends and Yoga and Tai Chi during the working week took shape.
I learned so much from Ruby and Robert.
Still today I’m so grateful for our paths crossing. Their love, and understanding of what stress was and how it was affecting me.
For I didn’t understand – caught in the middle of the storm and trying to make it through.
Looking back I understand now exactly how Yoga and Tai Chi saved me. All the benefits shaped my decisions and my approach to stress.
Dad did die, and I then had to deal with grief, anger, and acceptance. Yoga was my constant relief.
Consider its benefits
If you’re going through any kind of major stress do consider how a yoga class might help. Find a teacher who will support, nurture and guide you through your storm. I run meditation groups if that’s a start for you.
I’ve now had a lifetime of storms like everyone, and yoga and tai chi have been with me every week.
In 2012 I found Yogawithadriene when she first started. I have followed and loved her for home practice ever since. I would recommend you take a look until you’re ready to find a real-life class.
2023 – I’m reflecting on this journey after my very 1st weekend in Yoga Teacher Training.
I would like to learn how to be someone’s Ruby.
Interested in my teaching? Contact me and let’s chat.