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Apollo Power Yoga

RACHEL BAYLISS

 
I came to yoga because my body hurt. It started as soon as I turned 30. One of my big toes hurt when I walked and my right hip hurt. My doctor told me it was arthritis or "wear and tear". My own sense was that I wasn't moving enough.
 
I had been overweight since childhood and had never found joy in exercise or sports (except dancing and bush walking) having never been fit or self confident enough to participate fully. Yoga offered me a form of exercise that didn't make me compete with others, or struggle to keep up. Plus, I found a class right on my street. It was warm and they had a cat in the class. I started going most days.
 
Immediately I began to enjoy the changes in posture and alignment I felt after classes. Despite having always thought of myself as not liking exercise, I found that I really enjoyed the physicality of the practice. I loved walking home up my street standing taller, feeling my joints moving easily. 
 
What caught me by surprise was the mental and emotional challenge. When I first started practising, it was all I could do to keep myself on my mat. My mind sent me a constant stream of negative messages telling me to give up, that I wasn't strong enough. It was torture. To get through the classes I furiously repeated mantra and affirmations from my meditation practice to keep from giving up. I embraced ujJayi breathing.
 
That was 11 years ago. I haven't practised continuously but I've done a lot of meditation and chanting. I am still overweight, and my hip still hurts, but these days I am stronger and I have a compassionate mind that doesn't beat me up.  As a teacher it's awesome seeing other people working through their stuff on their mats and coming out of class refreshed and radiant. It's a relief to leave that stuff on the mat. 
 
Although I am still in the baby stages of being a yoga teacher, I am very happy to share what I have learnt so far. My challenge now is to bring more of my own experience in other spiritual practices into my teaching at Apollo.