My hand slightly quivering, I took a deep breath and clicked ‘start meeting’ on the communication app which has taken the world by storm since we became locked in our bedrooms like sulky teenagers. Holding my breath (not very yogic), I watched the little white box labelled ‘participants’ and tried to decide whether I was willing it to turn orange, meaning I would have my first audience, or whether the fledgling yoga teacher inside of me would actually like to crawl back under her hippy-printed shawl and light another joss stick thank you very much. But this passing thought was instantly replaced with a glorious state of euphoria when my first customer ‘entered the waiting room’.
Like the nation, indeed the world, I’d watched from the tedious confines of my four walls while professionals who had never previously considered themselves risking life and limb, continued to show up to the task on our behalf, day after terrifying day. Later, when they shared the stories of the heartbreaking scenes they’d witnessed, it was easy to see the ghosts in their eyes. They were traumatised. My sister, my girlfriends and those other incredible souls who followed a calling into care, expected the job to be difficult. But no-one, no-one expected this.
I’d leaned out the window and banged my pan at 8pm. I’d looked out a week later when neighbours went nutty and fireworks painted the sky in all the spectrum of the rainbows we see reflected in the windows of our wonderful town. And I thought, like so many have, what else can I do to help? I’m doing the shopping for the lovely new ‘mature’ friends I have in the street, but right now; it’s just not enough.
For the teacher training course, naturally I’ve had to twist my skeleton into positions one might expect to see at an 18th Century travelling circus. Muscles I now know the name of but hadn’t previously been introduced to in my own body, have been taken on a juicily achy journey of discovery, and I’ve also had to study the philosophy of Yoga. Yoga, I’ve learnt, is so much more than ‘inhale the arms’ and ‘Namaste’; it is an attitude to living built on the foundations of the Yoga Sutras, whose ‘commandments’, for want of a better word, teach us to offer friendliness, find joy and share compassion. It is community and it is exactly what, above the Costa coffees, pints in the pub and Wednesday morning gym sessions, we’re missing the most.
So at 5pm, as the 9th and final member of my ‘Yoga for Heroes’ class enters the Zoom studio, I take my place at the top of the mat for the first time as a teacher people had parted with hard-earned cash to see. I’d started the day going through the class with my incredibly supportive other half. He has been my student all the way through this course, patiently holding his aching body in poses while I stumbled over my left and right and confused triceps with quadriceps. Always fair with his feedback he has questioned my cues and encouraged my confidence. This time though, he just beamed at me. Apart from suggesting that I should probably explain the last resting pose for any newbies (reassure them that I’d only be leaving them for a couple of minutes with their eye closed before bringing them back) apparently, I’d smashed it.
From the first moment I opened the class, I was in the zone. I felt my audience relax and become still, and then I guided them through a speedy vinyasa to a slower pace where we breathed deeply into each pose, allowing the body to stretch and open. And all the way through I had a humongous, gigantic, elated grin stretched across my face. My lips parted and out danced a teacher who knew how to alter the pace of the class to suit the students, vary the tone of the voice to transform the mood, guide the students through inhales and exhales and explain where they should be feeling the stretch. It was absolutely incredible to be finally doing what I always knew I’d love and I was ecstatic.
Bringing the class to it’s calming end in the traditional way; I invited everyone to lie on their backs on the mat and gently close down the eyes. As agreed I took a moment to explain why we end like this in Savasana; how it balances the nervous system and allows us to soak in the benefits of the physical poses. Having reassured them that I’d bring us all back together in a few minutes, I listened first to the relaxed breathing of my class and then…the distinctive click as my computer shut itself down! 9 people were currently lying on their backs in their homes, eyes closed, confident that they could stay there until I said so. Yet I had no way of saying so!
My laptop choosing THIS moment to have a jolly little ambling update, I frantically downloaded and logged into Zoom on my phone. Now only working from a tiny screen, I could see only one student still dutifully spread eagled when I finally ‘arrived’ back in the studio. My hair sticking up like a mating Lion, face suddenly giving a close-up with the change of tech, I jumped back in to role and directed the class (were they all still there??) to come up slowly to seated where I thanked them for their time and their kind donations and ended the class with a time-honoured ‘Namaste’.
No-one had noticed! The feedback was fantastic. My elation; boundless. And I thought to myself… this will make a great story for my next blog 😉
Justgiving/northoftheyoga (to donate to NHS charities)