Stuart was and sometimes still is a student of mine. He has trained with many Ashtanga teachers that some of you may recognise. I was speaking with him recently and the conversation turned to who his teacher was and he said this to me, “my 1st Ashtanga teacher was you Cathy, then my ex wife and now my partner. That is my lineage. I have trained with Lucy Scott, David Garrigues, Kino Macgregor, Tim Miller, David Swenson amongst many others. People like to lay claim to a famous, ‘their teacher’. You are my teacher and always will be whether and how often I practise under or alongside you. My practise isn’t perfect, consistent or amazing but as a teacher i now hope what I have learnt I impart but with the influence of those that have guided me and it would be remiss of me to lay claim to lineage just because I have trained with some “famous” yoga teachers. Whatever that is? I hope my teachings are as open and humbling as those that you offered to me.” – Cathy
As a former bodybuilder, power lifter, gym bunny and runner I NEVER thought I would be into namby pamby yoga, after all it’s for women! Right?
It’s not a strong practice, you don’t get strong, you just get bendy and can kiss your own butt or you become a naval gazer, hahahahaha that’s right isn’t it? Wrong. At best it’s arrogant and actually very judgemental over something I knew virtually nothing about. At worst damn right ignorant.
Some of THE STRONGEST people I have ever worked with have been women and more over, women who do yoga! Why? Honestly? Because most men can’t handle that they are not as strong or “good” as women but that’s just their EGO’s and boy men have BIG EGO’s! How can I be sure? Well the last time I looked down my yoga shorts I still had a penis which means I still have an ego, all be it, perhaps not a very big one.
Unfortunately my first experience of yoga was with a sleeping bag, candles and chanting Ommmmmm at the end of a class, as an 18 stone bodybuilder it didn’t quite work… Anyway, 7 years later Ashtanga was introduced to me and again I pre-judged it, they do handstands and jumping. I am not a gymnast and I am not flexible, it’s a stupid practice, in fact ridiculous.
What all forms of yoga do is reflect you to you. It was ME who was stupid, ridiculous, judgemental and had that BIG EGO. Yoga has taught me much. And reflected more to me, about me, than any form of therapy could. It is therapy and in fact the 1st sequence you learn in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is called Chikitsa – Sanskrit for therapy.
I am Stuart and I am 47 years old, I carry multiple injuries from my years of stupidity harming my body. By training in Ashtanga and listening to my body I am able to work with it. This practice is NOT easy, it can seem harsh, it will make you challenge your perceptions of what it means to have “health and fitness”. You will get angry, frustrated and sometimes emotional.
What a man…emotional, even in this day and age? I don’t think so. It’s an outlet guys, it serves a purpose, among many purposes. Look, I still love pies, beer, coffee and cake. Oh cake…even a take away! This is about moderation and yoga somehow modifies your responses to the stuff you, “think” you want or, “think” you need.
There is a freedom in there and space, it is unique and liberating, once the sweat finishes dripping off your nose (did I mention you will sweat?). Think you are fit, can run 12 miles, do spin classes? Try Ashtanga, it will meet you where you are, believe me it will be an experience. It won’t suit everyone and if you do take this up and are a little like me, you will leave it and come back to it, perhaps many times.
In my 13 years with yoga, I have had 3 major layoffs, twice for 9 months and once for 18 months but I keep coming back to it and each time I do, the mat welcomes me and my body thanks me (after being sore for days!). Try it. You will look at things differently, maybe it will change you life. It did mine! I now teach that stupid, ridiculous, pointless thing called Yoga and for me it is a gift that I am thankful for every day.