Travels with a yogi

We went on holiday with four children and a yoga teacher. Ria, as our teacher is called, is also a good friend. I have known her since we first moved to Abu Dhabi. It was Amanda, a friend I was in touch with via email before we even got here who suggested I go to her class.

“She’s amazing, and has the best body ever, you just look at her and you’re motivated.”

So off I trotted to Ria’s class and she was right, I was motivated. But not just motivated to change my body shape. Ria is a true yogi in the sense that she is also very keen on the spiritual side of things. At the end of every lesson she would tell us to focus on our innermost desire, something we wished for, and visualize it happening. I would think about the novel, to the extent that when it finally came out, I gave Ria a copy of it. She very sweetly burst into tears. Maybe it was the prospect of having to read it.

I am pleased to say that this spiritual influence has now affected my children. We did lots of yoga there (see above) and since their week with Ria, not a negative thought is allowed. “Look for the positive,” Bea urged me the other day when I got woken up at 6am by Leo slamming a door. “Maybe you were meant to wake up early to do something special.”

“Don’t worry about the future,” said Olivia when I told her I had been fretting in the night. “Live in the now.”

Leo is similarly smitten, and the most dedicated yogi of them all.

Hugo and Rupert seem less convinced, but I am hoping that eventually this new zen-ness will get to them too, and we can all live blissfully ever after. With Ria, of course.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011

108 sun salutations

On Saturday I went along to my favourite yoga teacher’s class to do 54 sun salutations in a row. Why on earth would you want to do a thing like that you may wonder, but I was scarily excited by the challenge and wanted to see how tough it was.

I was unpleasantly surprised. I was actually sweating after about 10. After 25 I wondered how I would last until the end. Did you know that one sun salutation is actually two? That is, one on either side? No, neither did I.

It took us one hour and ten minutes. At times I went into a trance-like state. Other times I tried to count them (this was bad, they went really slowly). Then I tried to focus on my breathing and finally on the plot for my novel. I have to admit that most of the time I was wishing it was over. Although I was determined to keep on and not collapse into child’s pose like the woman in front of me.

At the end of 54 I lay back in a haze of exhaustion and sweat.

“Next week,” said Ria the lovely yoga teacher. “We will be doing 108.”

“Why 108?” I groaned. “Are you serious?”

“Indian/Buddhist thought states that the outer universe is mirrored in the inner man. He is the microcosm and the objective universe is the macrocosm. The number 108 represents the distance between the devotee and the God within.”

I’ll just have to take her word for it. And yes, I will be there on Saturday. I might never recover, but I will be there….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Discovering yoga

It is said that women of a certain age discover either God or gardening. I have instead discovered yoga. I can’t imagine life without it. And in fact looking back, one of my earliest memories of my mother is of her with her arms under her legs in some impossible position with her chest and head flat on the floor.

I don’t quite know what took me so long. OK so I dabbled before, but now I really think it is something I need to do every day and something I will keep doing for as long as I can.

Here at Shreyas of course we do it twice a day. Yesterday was amazing. I even got my nose down onto one leg in a forward bend. Something I never thought I would be able to do.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” I told the teacher and Carla. We are the only guests here right now, total heaven.

“You’ve got to have a very big nose,” said Carla.

Between yoga sessions, massages and writing part two of my novel (12902 words done so far) I am reading up about yoga and what it means. The word itself means union; which makes sense. It is the only exercise I have ever done where your body and mind are united.

I suppose in some ways that makes it a bit like sex. But if I had the choise, right now I’d opt for yoga. I guess that makes me a woman of a certain age…..

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010