23 Oct Happy Anniversary Dave Wise- A Year of Yoga
Meet Dave Wise the editor of Trek and Run Magazine, as he shares his journey to the mat.
Early in 2017, when I’d decided to take a first, proper foray into yoga but didn’t have a clue how to
choose what studio to learn more at, I looked on Groupon for yoga studio deals. There were lots available and as a result, I spent the next 3 months at different studios, all who specialised in different styles. They showed me much that was useful but also what I didn’t need. Hot yoga was the best teacher, it warmed me up to an unnatural state too quickly, so I thought I could stretch further than I actually could (injury soon occurred), and illustrated that running and biking weren’t the only activities that demanded close monitoring of water and salt loss. Also, everybody was so reluctant to interact (I didn’t blame them, most were women and in a potentially vulnerable state of undress) that it was even less social than being in a gym. What this place needs, I thought as I left after my third week there, is a large chill out area, so students can meet in a safe, shared space after their practice.
That’s how I came to practice at the Octopus Garden Yoga Centre. I learnt that they had a huge chill out area and that they were amenable to energy exchange ideas, which meant that people such as I on lower wages could offer our skills or labour in exchange for free or reduced fee practice.
For the first few months, I concentrated on learning a new style of terminology. As a runner, I knew the
importance of breathing, but breathing into my back? Or into my lower right leg? I’d never thought of
breathing as anything other than centred around my chest. Now here was a new way of thinking. As a
result of learning this, I’m able to mentally isolate my body parts much more than before. Whilst earlier
I might think I had an injured thigh, now I can pinpoint where in my thigh the issue is. This is useful for
diagnosis, cure and prevention as I work out my weak spots and give them more attention when I stretch.
I was also previously fascinated by the space between my outer skin and the rest of the world, where did
I and the atoms that make me up begin and where did we all end? Breathing into my outermost reaches
has helped me push this exploration along, as have the reading recommendations that my instructors
made for authors such as Stephen Cope, Donna Farhi, Doug Keller, Jules Mitchell and Pema Chodron.
Mostly though it hasn’t been about breathing or learning to touch my toes or keep my runner’s hamstrings as limber as they can be. It’s been about the Octopus Garden Community opening up and welcoming me in, and me slowly learning to accept their friendship and their help.
I’ll not pretend that I came from a particuarly rough part of town but it’s true to say that I grew up believing that those around me were mostly out for themselves and that I could rely on no-one but myself. I can begin to see now that this was never true, and what a self denying, fear driven, isolating and destructive attitude this has been. Recently I undertook a charitable activity and without my asking the OctopusGarden community donated $200, a huge amount considering how many of them barely know me. I was shocked, people don’t do that in my world! But now they do, and I have to consider that perhaps people didn’t do before because I never let them in, or gave them a chance and that now, for reasons unknown to me, I’ve decided it’s high time I was kinder to those around me so am lowering my barriers.
I’ve started to make friendships at the studio, and at a pace that I can handle. Slow burn, nothing like the
speed dating/friendship concept which would scare me witless, but more like a few words and smiles
exchanged now and again, and a comfortable feeling when I’m there. They’re good people at the Octopus
Garden, and I am learning how to be from them. That’s enough for me for now, just relearning how to be.
I have great yoga ambitions. I want to practice every day, read all the wisdom books, finally manage to
touch my toes! I have to readjust my priorities for this to happen, and I think I’m ready to do that.
Thank you Dave Wise, for sharing your story.
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