Where did your yoga journey begin?
Chris Mathews is living proof that it is never too late to start yoga! She began practicing with Annie’s Over 50’s group four years ago at the age of 68, and attends class 3 times a week. She feels a sense of belonging and enjoys being a part of a yoga community, often joining others for coffee after class. Chris’s grand-daughter, Hannah, spent some time living with her when she moved back to Perth from Melbourne. Her mum and nanna had been trying to get her to yoga for some time but she was reluctant to try and resisted their efforts. Seeing her nanna, who she is very close to, get up and go to yoga three times a week and the Christmas gift of a Glide Yoga Beginners’ Course from her mum, Vanessa, led her to give yoga a go.
At 19, Hannah was going through some life changing experiences which required her to make some big decisions. Relocating to Perth, working out what she wanted to study, all of these life changing events were unsettling and she was struggling with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. She says, if I had known the benefits associated with yoga, I would have started much sooner. Hannah practices a couple of times a week and is like a sponge, absorbing all of the benefits and philosophical teachings of yoga. Six months after practicing yoga she now feels calm and happy, she has stopped trying to control life, and is able to go with the flow, she is excited to see what happens in life.
Tell us a little about your experiences at Glide Yoga
Both Hannah and Chris see Glide Yoga as their own personal sanctuary. Chris lives with chronic back pain and has recently been scheduled for a hip replacement. Living with chronic pain can be debilitating and she finds yoga’s breath-work and a daily meditation provide her with some much needed pain relief. She remembers Annie saying to her, ‘If you get up and don’t feel well, just come to class, you will always feel better for it’ and she has found this to be true. She says, ‘the yoga studio is a place where you feel calm and peaceful. Even if I spend the whole class in a restorative pose, I am in a better frame of mind that if I had stayed at home.’
Hannah loves to lie down on her mat, with the doors open, the wind blowing in, the feeling of being in paradise. She feels as if a heavy weight has been taken off her shoulders and has never felt so relaxed. From her first class, she felt so welcome, she loves Glide’s personal approach where you are seen in your entirety as a whole person, and you’re not just a student. At the end of her first beginners’ course class with Annie, she remembers Annie saying to hug your knees in and give yourself a big cuddle, that you are perfect, just as you are. These words made Hannah realise that she can be kind to herself, that she can have compassion and be loving, not just for others, but for herself! Such a big life lesson!
In what way has yoga changed your life?
Yoga has changed my life, says Hannah. I used to hunch my shoulders and felt as though I was carrying a heavy weight on them. Yoga influences how you carry yourself and since coming to yoga, I have come out of my shell, I feel confident, positive and creative and this has led to some big changes in my life. I’m now staying in Perth to study fashion and following my creative dreams.
Yoga is simply the best thing I’ve ever done, it has helped me so much. I’m much kinder to myself and am enjoying life. I used to be really anxious, yoga has taught me that I can identify the feeling of anxiety as it arises and change my breathing to overcome it. I have learnt not to harbour negative thoughts and feelings and I have learnt that I can change my thoughts and my feelings towards myself and others. Hannah felt so strongly about her personal transformation, she had a lotus flower tattooed on her ankle to mark her rising above the mud, a blossoming of inner strength and an awareness of her own inner light and luminosity. Indeed, she is a radiant being!
Chris couldn’t be more proud of Hannah and talks of her own transformation in learning how to manage pain. Often when I’m having an MRI scan, I consciously relax my body and practice breathing techniques I have learnt at yoga. The doctors often comment on how calm I am during these scans which they say is unusual. The scans can last a long time and you have to stay very still. My meditation practice of 20 minutes a day often flies by, I have become used to being still and feeling peaceful.
What would you say to people who are curious but a little hesitant to begin?
Hannah says, allow yourself to be open to it, I had a negative view of yoga but the benefits so outweighed my negative perception. Give yourself a chance to get to know yourself, it will change your mind-set, your perceptions, your life! You won’t regret it.
Chris says, make sure you find the right teacher and the right class. I was put off by my first experience at a beginners’ yoga class. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and it was not a good place for me to start. I found the over 50’s class suited my needs much better and Annie will always tell me when it’s time to go into a restorative pose, I don’t feel the need to be doing what everyone else is doing all of the time. She helps me make my practice my own.