In the past I have only ever practiced yoga from a flashy gym. As part of the membership I had prior to having children, when time and money were not really much of a thought let alone a problem, both my husband and I were avid gym fans! I mainly went because I liked the sauna and steam room and would push myself through a punishing workout with that as a reward at the end. I tried (and ended up really enjoying) yoga because it was there, it was part of the monthly fee and on at a time which was convenient. What I got out of going to the yoga classes was a feeling of calm. It was a world away from the MTV ridden atmosphere outside the studio and I learnt that I could make my body, which was always supple from years of dance, do all sorts of wonderful things. What I especially liked was the fact I would come away feeling like I had done a major workout but I would never feel exhausted as I did with other classes. I would leave feeling full of energy and peaceful if anything.
Having Florence and I became time and money poor. I’m not complaining because I had my baby so what could be better than that but the gym membership went and so did my fitness which was a shame. Sadly I’ve never really regained it if I’m honest. I go for the odd run when I can and super occasionally I might take a class at the gym local to my Mum so that she can look after the children but for the most part I don’t do anything. I could go and take a class in the evenings of course but by the time Jonny arrives home from work all I want to do is sink on to the sofa and well, do nothing for the first time in the day. Of course yoga would be perfect because it buoys up the energy levels and the thought of going doesn’t fill me with dread for I know it won’t involve lots of jumping around but instead controlled stamina work. Even better to have a relaxation session at the end but again I don’t really have the time in the evenings to do such a long class… It’s all catch 22 when you’re a Mum I guess… The closest I’d got to yoga recently was taking Florence to baby classes when she was tiny (and that was a while ago), Jimmy to one taster session with Mama Baby Bliss on a day when we managed to get out of the house in time for it and watching Florence while she does yogo watching Waybaloo! (For those of you not on the CBeebies circuit, yogo is the type of yoga the characters in the programme Waybuloo practice.) Indeed as I write she has been practicing yogo with Lau Lau and the gang!
In step my long-term friend and training to be a yoga teacher, Amy Bramble and all that could change for me. Amy is someone I have known for 18 years having first met her when I was commuting from Norwich to London for school. Although only a few years older than me she was a world away from where I was, in my school uniform and studying for my GCSE’s on the train. Amy was a big business woman already and at 19 was not only working in and commuting to London whilst studying part-time for her degree but she was also a home owner, accomplished cook, friend to many, fitness fanatic and basically just the coolest person you could meet. For me, a fifteen year old girl, I couldn’t believe she wanted to not only talk to me but take me under her wing. I went clubbing with Amy and got in. She was over 18 so by association so was I. I stayed over at her place, met her friends, learned from her and lead an entirely different kind of social life to all my friends, all because of my friend Amy. There have been bumps in the road over the years but we are still good friends today and I have seen Amy change over the years just as we do all our friends. The thing about Amy though is that she is always evolving and like a butterfly appearing from its chrysalis she is always hatching into a better version of herself. Having been such a succesful business woman so early on in life, after working hard and earning her place on the corporate ladder, she began to seek fulfilment in a different style of life and on a journey which has seen her try her hand at many different things including working in restaurant kitchen (she’s a wonderful cook and even appeared on ‘MasterChef’), she has gone from allotment gardener to being almost self-sufficient in just a few years and now, she is almost qualified as a yoga instructor. As far removed from big business as you could get but so much more zen and although she has always been not just good but excellent at everything she does, so much more Amy.Meet Amy Bramble.
Nearing the end of her training and Amy now runs eight classes a week near her home in Epping, East London. On top of this she also runs yoga workshops and events on some weekends and she invited me to come and try one out. Yoga? On a weekend? Near where I live? At an affordable price! I couldn’t say yes fast enough! There are classes nearer for me but to be honest, half an hour for £10 and it just doesn’t fall into our realms of affordability. Amy’s workshops start at 11 and finish at around half 2/3. They cost just £15. She doesn’t do yoga to make money but because she loves it and she says she wants to just teach everybody, children included which she plans on working on next. I arrived at the workshop not really knowing what to expect. Even though I know Amy I have never attended one of her classes before. I’ve seen the change in her, indeed I didn’t see her for a long time and when I did it was after she had started practicing. She looked stronger but gentler and her whole body had a different way of falling. It’s kind of hard to explain but she just looked as if she had no tension in her body. I guess this should have been some indication of how good at yoga she is. I knew she’d be a good teacher because she has always been really good at talking to people. She makes friends everywhere she goes, not just acquaintances but friends. She met me on a train. Another good friendship she forged shopping in a music shop… She makes friends so effortlessly because she’s interested in everyone and this in turn makes people interested in her. If you meet Amy you’ll be joining in with one of her activities, be it the cookery club she started, a holiday for the masses in a cottage somewhere or just going to a random cheese and wine tasting before you know it! Amy has never managed to go anywhere without picking up friends and her yoga workshop, although full of her regular yoga clients, was really just a gathering of her friends. The new ones she’s met by being their instructor granted but friends all the same.
So the class began and I kind of forgot I knew Amy and just listened to the sound of her voice while following her simple instructions. She seemed to know everything about everybody (she had asked me about my medical history having just had a baby and of course the same had been done for everyone). She included everybody with everything she said and even though she was thoroughly inclusive of all she also managed to be intimately talking to each person remembering their strengths and where they had to take care. The class was serious but fun, we laughed and we worked hard. I enjoyed every minute of it as it flew by with her moving on to more difficult poses and helping us as she did so. By the end when we were wrapped up in blankets ready for her co-host to take over with some relaxation I could have fallen asleep on the floor there and then so relaxed I felt. It was no surprise to me then, that during the relaxation session I did actually drift off! Can you believe it. On the floor of a wooden hall in Epping, (not a flashy gym – yoga is just yoga anywhere) I dozed off as I was taken by words on a walk in the forest. It was wonderful and probably the best kip I’ve had all week. With the yoga class behind having relaxed my soul I was able to stop thinking for five minutes about the children and if Jonny would remember to take the present to the party he was taking them to and just drift off with nothing whizzing round in my head. That’s worth it’s weight in gold! They say once you’re a Mother you never sleep properly, soundly or without worry ever again. I see that, totally! Perhaps a yoga class like Amy’s here and there would do us all the power of good! When the session had ended we were invited to share some food – another of Amy’s passions of course is gathering round the table to break bread. Everyone had brought something simple to share and we chatted and ate companionably with all of us relaxed.This photograph is from the October workshop. Food sharing and getting to know one another.
I can’t go to yoga very often because of the time aspect, I wish I could but I can do Amy’s workshops and will do again I hope. Amy says you don’t have to be ‘good’ at yoga to be good at yoga. As long as you listen and breathe as you move then you’re doing it right. She welcomes everyone no matter what level you are at and I can assure you, you will feel welcome, you won’t feel out-of-place and you will make a new friend or even several. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday and I envy those who get to go to her classes weekly, if you live near enough I strongly recommend trying them out – she even does one especially for men! Have a read of her blog to find out what’s going on when, learn more about Amy and also read about some of the fab foody and crafty bits she does as well as her awesome yoga!
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