Eszter is an amazing yoga teacher and a wonderful friend of mine. Below, she tells you all about her journey into yoga.
In fifth grade every student in my school had to have a check up by a chiropractitioner to make sure that before we would hit puberty, we will grow into bones, joints and muscles that can hold us all till retirement. This was when I was told that my feet are a little flat and that my right shoulder is lower than my left, therefore I needed to take special PE classes. I was not sure what a “special PE class” meant, but the first Wednesday when I had to go I found out it was yoga.
About 6 of us attended from different classes, we each had different “problems” with our bodies that needed fixing. The class was fun, our teacher was great at providing poses and challenges that made us really focus on the given task, like taking off and putting on a sock only using your toes.
I attended these classes for 3 years and I loved them. I was so dedicated that there were times that it was only me who made it to class each Wednesday. In high school, parents and teachers thought that probably we were all fixed now or might never be able to change our structure anymore, therefore, yoga classes were cancelled. I missed it a lot, but my busy schedule pointed my attention elsewhere anyway.
It was only when I was about 19 that I decided to start yoga again. It was somewhat out of the blue, as a friend of mine mentioned it to me, and after a quick search on YouTube I could roll out my mat and do a session each morning before breakfast. First the familiar downward dog was hard, felt that my back and hamstrings were so tight that I would never be able to reach my toes or the floor ever, I had to sneak in extra breaths through a Surya Namaskar. Don’t even get me started on a chaturanga push up… As I kept pushing myself, I started to feel powerful again. Downward dog felt like a relaxing pose, I began challenging myself with more variations and decided to attend a local yoga class. It was amazing. The sense of connection between the attendees brought back great memories from the past from primary school.
Now, as a 27 year old yogi, this ancient practice is truly my companion in life. I often chant to my students to create a breath that is a strong companion throughout their practice. Something they could rely on. If the knee doesn’t bend or the arm can’t reach, your breath should still carry you through the challenges. And it works. Just breathe. Even now, as you are reading this, soften your gaze and take a deep breath in and out of your breath. Now back to my scribbles.
Although I am still not an experienced teacher, but I can say that I am a well-nourished learner. All the progress I have made wasn’t always bodily, but more often came from my mind or my spirit. Even now I struggle with some of the asanas, that either scare me or my body doesn’t allow me to access, yet I find peace in the thought that I am working towards progression, not perfection. Somehow my own body language changed, I started to find comfort in awkward poses (sometimes literally), encouraged myself more than talked down on me, and most importantly enjoyed the ride. Yoga is not for just the perfect body type, mental state or emotional stability. Hell, no on has that. Yoga is for those that battle day by day to stand up from the couch and stretch their arms. It’s for the mums that need 30 minutes away from the craze of a laundry explosion. It’s for the men who have the tightest hips in every specie of the world and can’t sit with a straight back for the love of their life! Yoga is for you, even if you can’t get out of your chair or don’t know the sanskrit names of all of the Hatha yoga poses.
Because of this, lately I started a basic series on my Instagram and Facebook page where I share the tricks and tips for each Hatha pose that you might ever come across in a yoga class. Most of us have aching backs after mowing the lawn, hunch over computers 10 hours a day, and hardly walk anywhere anymore. Our muscles are tight, weak, and not at all flexible. It makes sense that you’d rather focus on finding the perfect alignment in downward dog first, even if your knees are slightly bent, then work from there, than rushing through a Sun Salutation or a power flow in a Vinyasa class. That is like itching your left ear with your right hand – doesn’t make sense.
This is why I teach friendly and fun classes in Herefordshire, where students can be 19 or 90 (I did have a 92 year old visit one of my classes once… never sweat more in my life), new or old to the practice. Yoga is one of the most important movements you can do to bring the youth back into your muscles.
I’d like to share two testimonials from my local classes. A lady in her 60s came up to me shortly after I took over another lady’s yoga classes at the local leisure centre. She mentioned to me that she had attended the previous teacher’s classes for 4 years and could never reach her feet in a happy baby pose, but in my last class, as I was giving here the ques, she somehow managed to grab hold of her ankles, then her feet. She said nothing really changed in her flexibility after 3 classes with me, but she had a connection to her limbs in a way she had never had it before. That is yoga, letting you use the body that you have today.
The other story is about a gentleman that attends one of my classes. He does all sorts of classes, but somehow feels the need to come to yoga to give his muscles some time to regenerate. He had told me that his calves had been really tight for years and he had trouble walking long distances as the sharp pain would accompany him immediately. I kept that in mind as I taught the classes he took part of, gave him some stretches he could do every day at home as well. After a month he came back to me and said that for the first time, when he embarked on his usual walk, the pain never appeared. He was delighted.
Yoga will give you the tools to learn how to use your own body for its best benefit. It was only now, almost 15 years later that I realized that in primary school the doctor’s diagnosis after a quick look was incorrect. There is a difference in the position of my shoulders, yes, but instead of heaving a low shoulder on the right, I actually have really tight muscles around my left collar bone which lift that side a little higher. He wasn’t far off from the truth, the end results are almost exactly the same, yet they are completely different.
Eszter K. Browning – Zsálya Yoga