My discovery of yoga:
I discovered yoga many years ago through a friend. Like a lot of guys, I was sceptical about trying it at first. A few female friends of mine had begun classes and tried to get me to join them, but sticking firmly to the concept that running, pushups and other 'manly' activities were more my thing, I resisted. A few years later however, one friend was very persuasive, and I soon found myself in a large, cold room with wooden floors in Carlton, Melbourne. The style of yoga that we did was Japanese in origin, called 'Oki-Do'. Oki being the surname of the founder, and I imagine 'Do' comes from 'Dojo' - The Japanese word for 'Training Room'. What I discovered that day changed my life, I had what some people might call an epiphany; Something shifted inside me, I was unsure exactly what had happened, or how to explain it, but the physical movements somehow adjusted me emotionally. Over the next week or so, old emotions rose to the surface, causing spontaneous emotional releases. I noticed that this change stayed with me, and the more yoga I did, the less emotionally unbalanced I became. I later came to understand that what was happening was that latent emotions I had 'bottled up' inside my body, were being freed. Once free, it left me feeling calmer, more centred and lighter. Since that time I have had similar experiences, each time they seem to get subtler. My interest in yoga had been ignited, although it was not until several years and several yoga styles later that I began to practice with regularity. I have used, and continue to use books, DVDs, classes with teachers and the Internet to deepen my understanding of yoga. Although what I have learned, and what was shown to me from the beginning, is that the number one teacher of yoga is yourself. Listen to your body. Your body is always sending you signals about how it feels and how it wants to move. You need to tune in to these messages.
Yoga has certainly changed my life, I think that it might also have saved it. In 2003, I experienced a number of personal tragedies, that thankfully, most people will never experience. The magnitude and shock of these tragedies impacted on my physical and emotional health. I developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, poor dietary habits and then eventually developed cancer. After my diagnosis I opted for medical intervention (I did have surgery and chemotherapy, but kept it to a minimum) and began a more ernest study of yoga and yogic philosophy. I also radically changed my diet. It would be misleading to suggest that yoga alone is responsible for my recovery, but it certainly played a major role, and continues to play a major role in keeping me healthy in my rather hectic lifestyle.