At Yoga West, we pride ourselves on having a team that are practicing yogis and who are committed to yoga and wellbeing. Our lovely receptionist John is one these people and we wanted to share a little more about his journey through yoga and to Yoga West.
How did you get into yoga?
I’ve spent a number of years now focusing on personal development in all shapes and sizes. Aside from copious amounts of reading I’ve dabbled in Reiki, Ayurveda, Kinesiology, and most recently Ayahuasca. You name it I have probably tried it.
At one point a few years ago I fulfilled the stereotype and traveled Asia to “find myself”. Along the way, I ended up in a hostel in Sri Lanka. One night at about 4am a group of us were chatting outside when curiosity got the better of me. I turned to the guy next to me and asked him how old he was. Judging by his appearance and vitality I assumed him to be in his early 50s. His response, 78 years old, and when I asked how he remained so youthful he simply replied: “yoga every day for the last 40 years”. That was me sold.
Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to pursue yoga seriously?
During my first class. My friend took me to a studio in Bondi Beach, it turned out to be an advanced class. I had no idea what I was doing, and after years of cycling I was horribly inflexible, but I followed the prompts and tried to keep up. By the end of the class, I was a sweaty horrible mess but I felt invigorated, alive and a peace like nothing I had ever experienced before. During that first session, I had glimpses of myself in that teacher's position. Years on that desire hasn't diminished, and at some point, I would love to become a teacher.
How has yoga changed you?
I haven't always been the open, calm bloke I am today, like most of us I carried emotional baggage, which I had done a great job of burying deep within. I had masked mine with things like dark humor, sarcasm, and passive aggression. Yoga has really helped me to open up and let a lot of that go while deepening my connection with myself. I even cry occasionally now. Don’t worry, I’m not saying, “yoga makes you cry”, but it can be used as a tool to guide you through a healing process.
Advice to people considering it?
Suck it up and do it. Like many, I was put off by my skill level, or lack thereof. The friend who took me to my first class gave me a great piece of advice, which I still abide by today. Just listen to the teacher, ignore everything else outside of those four corners of your mat, and when you can, close your eyes. As soon as you get on the mat you’ll be so caught up in thinking about your alignment, your breathing, and following your teacher's direction that you really don’t have the capacity to worry about anything else. And don’t worry if the person next to you is more advanced than you because no matter what level they are, everyone is there for the same reason, to develop their own practice, so they are far too focused on their own stuff to even give an ounce of thought to what you are up to.
My favourite quote as a yogi:
"Wherever you are, be all there." Jim Elliot