I’m a retired high school counsellor and will soon turn seventy. I enjoy what a city like Toronto offers such as; plays, concerts, movies, gentle walks in the parks, spending time with friends and exploring different restaurants. I also appreciate occasional travel and gardening. Now that I’m a grandmother of two, spending time with my grandchildren ranks very high on the list of things I enjoy.
I began practicing yoga and meditation twenty years ago when I attended a class that Esther Myers was offering for breast cancer survivors. I wanted to improve the mobility in my right arm where lymph nodes had been removed. I also tried a variety of classes at the Studio. Almost immediately, I found that I was sleeping better which meant I was feeling better in general. When I returned to work I found that I was calmer and more patient. Every Friday after work I stopped at the Studio on my way home to attend Mar Jean Olson’s class. At the end of the work week I found the class calming and cleansing for my mind and body. At home I practiced the breathing meditations I learned in Monica Voss’s classes. I felt that I was closer to my body in a quiet, friendly and compassionate way. This practice is not about pushing my body, challenging it or even improving it. It’s more about caring for, soothing and nurturing it.
For these reasons I continue to come to the Studio and practice at home. Yoga has become a state of mind. The response to a stressful situation can be a quiet Ujjayi breath, a discreet hand mudra, or simply dropping into the earth with a sense of grounding that helps me deal with stress and then moving on.
I have severe arthritis in my knees and this is where I feel the physical benefits of yoga. Gentle yoga stretches lubricate the joints and relax the muscles. The effect is immediate and also cumulative. After a gentle yoga session at the Studio or at home, I’m able to walk “better” and longer without pain. This is how yoga has become part of my day-to-day life.
I would describe this approach to yoga as compassionate and flexible, centered around a lively yet tranquil mind-body relationship. In this approach there is room for each of us to choose the way we relate to yoga. It’s not prescriptive or judgemental. It’s not loud or showy. It’s quietly helpful.