I had been toying with the idea of taking up some kind of gentle exercise for years but was always too busy and then, when John became more frail, I had time but could only learn by watching a video (which back then was a tape in a machine). That didn’t work for me so I gave up. After he died and I was looking for ways to get out and meet people I decided to see if I could find either a Yoga or Tai Chi class locally and searched online. It was September and I knew that going out after dark when it was also cold would challenge my commitment. There was no Tai Chi group which was in a suitable place at a time I felt able to manage but there was an afternoon Yoga class in Cardigan so I went along.
The Small Wold Theater in Cardigan where that class was held
I enjoyed the moving and stretching but was disappointed that none of the group spoke to each other. We arrived, rolled out our mats, did what the teacher told us, rolled up our mats and left. Then after about a year the teacher had to take a break for a term as she had several family members needing extra help. I mentioned it to someone I volunteered with who suggested I go to the class she was in which met in an evening. It was summer time so I thought it would not be too bad going out later and it would tide me over.
That was how I met Rose Thorn. (No Mr and Mrs Thorn did not lack imagination – the whole name was made up as a stage name which stuck) The group still wasn’t chatty but I knew 2 other people there so it felt more friendly. And Rose was a revelation. Yoga wasn’t about contorting myself into strange shapes. It was all about exploring what my body could and couldn’t do without fussing too much about its limitations. It was about noticing how I stood, moved, breathed. Then gently inmproving my posture, flexibility and balance through the postures. I knew that I had knock knees but found I also had flat feet. That I walked with my feet at 45 degrees (all those models posing on the catwalk and dress patterns with the model’s toes prettily pointed to show off the skirt had had an effect). Neither of those things were helped by weak ankles. Years of wearing high heels all the time had given me squashed toes and very short hamstrings. Oh, and I rounded my shoulders and stuck my head forward when I walked. Not that Rose said much – she just let me discover all these things through trying to follow her instructions. ‘Stand with your feet parallel to the edges of the mat’ was one of the first and most often used and it is hard to do when you usually waddle like a duck!
Trying to take a selfie in the mirror whilst standing on one leg in tree pose does not encourage good posture!
I started to go to the Saturday morning sessions she runs from time to time at the home she shares with her partner Marie and which Marie runs as a vegetarian guest house. 3 hours of yoga followed by lunch which Marie cooks and where we all chat and get to know each other. Bit by bit this lovely couple became my friends.
Over the Rainbow Vegetarian Guest House which is home to Marie and Rose
So now my posture has improved, my better balance means I am less likely to fall and my awareness of how I move makes it easier to avoid aching muscles when I work in the garden.