The first time I encountered “yoga” was in the late 1950s and who the eck had ever heard of such a thing back then? Well, not me!
We were very much a working class environment and not too well off for anything: nobody had cars, phones or tellies, or even fitted carpets.
Women did the housework and chores, men went out to work and had allotments and went to the pub. Kids did kid things and got shunted off to Sunday School every week and apart from their grannies, generally kept away from adults.
My available information was a poor filter to the post war world: mainly kiddie comics, knitting and cookery oriented womens’ mags, encyclopedia showing artist impressions of primordial swamps, African tribes’ peoples in ancient hutments, and some info about a tribe in New Guinea who carted dead elders around strapped to their backs until the deceased rotted away, (the stuff one remembers!); also, we listened’ to sanitized music and radio plays, (I mean!!! Max Bygraves for goodness sake and a few American crooners like Perry Como, Journey into Space”, and Billy Cotton Band Show). To say the world had just emerged from a major debacle a few years before, things were parochial.
My first brush with “yoga” was quite a shock to my sheltered and limited knowledge base. I had a newly acquired bezzie mate and we went back to her house, and behold, when we went into the front room, there was Pauline’s dad standing on his head in the middle of it!
I couldn’t wait to tell somebody about this stunning sight. “I’ve seen Pauline’s dad doing yoga,” I said to my own dad.
“The daft article,” replied my dad, (never one to be encouraging), “the man’s flaming crackers. He’s a bus conductor for Pete’s sake”.
Well, dad must have actually heard of yoga (?), but it wasn’t normal and I didn’t ever imagine myself doing it as I was the world’s most hopeless gymnast; any physical jerks being beyond my competence or desire.
However, many years later:
I went to a yoga class and stuck with it, although it wasn’t really yoga, just some asanas. I kept wondering what this, ‘yoke with the Divine’ I’d read about could possibly be. I thought maybe I would cotton on to it with experience, but nothing about what we were doing seemed in the least bit Divine and none of the ladies in the class seemed high on any sort of bliss either.
One day we had a stand-in teacher who suggested we did an om shanti chant before we began. The ladies said they wouldn’t do it: they were most put out. The woman next to me said she’d never be able to show her face again if anyone heard us! So, no wonder I was waiting in vain for the penny to drop. This radical realisation that another ‘world’ of yoga existed was so liberating and I eventually, and quite by chance (or was it?) found a Kundalini teacher.
As soon as I walked into that class and we tuned in with, “ong namo, guru dev namo” that was ‘it’.
If dad were still alive he’d now think me a daft article and obviously crackers.
Oh well, I suppose I did choose him after all!!