I am not going to lie, right now I kinda feel like a fraud. For the last three weeks I’ve attended yoga classes that have probably been pitched more at advanced, if not intermediate level. I was proud of myself for somehow managing to keep up. I hadn’t been daunted by the prospect of attempting those more difficult asanas. I’d given them a go and for the most part had come through with a pat on my back. I could even do a headstand! My confidence level was through the roof!
So when the leader of the latest yoga retreat rolled through Blue Osa’s revolving doors and gave me his pitch on how the week was going to go, I was a little underwhelmed. Although it was David’s fifth time under Blue Osa’s roof, this time he was teaching yoga to a good portion of day one beginners. ‘Hey that’s almost me’ I told him, but when he outlined his morning class as a two hour back to basics class, with a lot of talking and a few held base poses, I’ll admit it…I turned up my nose. I’m too advanced for that now I thought. I missed the first day, too cocky for my own good. Not my girlfriend Holly though. Holly was actually excited at the idea of rewinding back to the first day of school that we somehow managed to miss. She came back raving about how her downward facing dog had actually been nothing of the sort! How wrong can you go with down dog I thought? The answer as it turns out, is a long, long way. On Holly’s command and out of a great deal of curiosity, the next day I was there, on my mat, sitting up straight, ready to learn. Which as it turned out, there was a great deal of.
Now I am certainly not casting dispersions on my previous instructors, they have, and continue to, teach me new things and better ways to complete my practice and I am eternally grateful to the time and wisdom they gave me. In their defence they were teaching intermediate or maybe even advanced classes made up of people that had paid good money to be there. I was simply invited in for free. What David’s class gave me was something that I never got with those guys – the building blocks to take my baby steps. It’s like I missed kindergarten and jumped straight in to first grade.
Going Back To The Start
In my first class with David after a few sun salutations to warm us up, we concentrated on four asanas, all derived from the same pose. Warrior 1,2,3 and 4. Those four poses encompassed a 2-hour class. By the end of it, my muscles were feeling beat up. I had slipped in between these poses in the past and felt a strain, but after an intensive course in both theory and the practice of such a basic pose I realised with a real sense of dawning horror that there was a very good chance that everything I thought I had achieved before was a sham. Until a chance conversation with David later that afternoon saved me. On hearing my fears, David eloquently put me at ease with a wonderful metaphor. He likened yoga to an artist’s painting. Having watched me in class he said that I had all the right lines, the sketch if you like, now all I needed was to return to that painting and fill in the fine detail.
Growing & Developing My Practice
Buoyed by David’s speech I arrived for the second day re-energised. Again using the warrior poses I had learned the day before and applying the muscle trembling form I had been taught, we graduated into a whole plethora of warrior-centric asanas – humble warrior, side angle, extended side angle, reverse warrior, extended reverse, and twisted angle with tree pose thrown in for good measure. Phew! The sweat was literally dripping off me! Again, I was struck by how much more effort was required. More importantly, as a direct pay off to that extra work when everything was stacked correctly, and the right muscles were engaged, I felt a definite release of pressure on places that shouldn’t be under stress – like my troublesome lower back for example.
David’s focus on ensuring the body was supported and counter balanced at all times really helped me to understand the poses I had learned. His classes were as much about theory as they were about practical, he even incorporated help from Blue Osa’s resident skeleton in the closet; ‘Mr Bones’!
As the week progressed, so did the class. Although we were learning and often revisiting some very basic poses, that didn’t mean we weren’t allowed to play. After asking the class for requests, under his watchful eye we practiced headstands and Eagle pose before David encouraged us to try partner yoga. The especially fun to try, and impressive to look at Whale and Flying pose gave us all some Facebook status worthy material to go back to our rooms with.
David closed out his retreat with a very moving pool meditation. The whole class walked silently around the outside of the pool in silent meditation. The relaxing feeling of buoyancy whilst in the water made clearing my mind a lot easier than I often found meditation. It is an exercise I would definitely recommend as worthwhile.
Whilst my first month spent grappling with yoga has had its fair share of challenges, it’s also been full of some truly memorable moments. While I’ll always remain hugely indebted to my early instructors, who all gave me the confidence to push myself out of my comfort zone, I am hugely grateful to have been given the opportunity to re attach my training wheels and go back to square one.
About The Author
Chris Barkess is a blogger and aspiring author in his thirties. He also drives trains in his hometown of Newcastle, England.
His love of travelling brought him together with his fiancé, Holly, another like-minded travel nut, and the love of his life. Together they embarked on an adventure in 2015 to explore Latin America where they fell in love with Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa.
Aside from writing – his undisputable first love, Chris enjoys reading, running, football, and being fully immersed in nature. He is a self-proclaimed Stephen King fanatic.
Chris admits to having been initially sceptical and openly dismissive of Yoga until he realised the benefits it had to offer him; physically, mentally and spiritually. He now recognises the depths to his ignorance.
“The ultimate ignorance is rejecting something you know nothing about, yet refuse to investigate” – Dr. Wayne Dyer