Sunday, 25 March 2007


I first encountered yoga when I was 17. I'd read 'Forever Young Forever Healthy' by Indra Devi and wanted to join a class. Yoga wasn't main stream in 1964, and everyone thought I'd gone mad, but my determination was such that I went to the library to enquire about classes. Even the librarians looked at me strangely. The nearest class was at a Yoga and Meditation centre in Manchester. Much to my parents' horror, who thought yoga was for freaks and vegetarians who tied themselves in knots, and that I'd get kidnapped or murdered, I went off alone on the train to an unknown destination. It was an adventure. My stomach churned with excitement.

I have never had a good sense of direction and how I found the way to the house I can't remember, but on arrival an Indian gentleman invited me into a large Victorian terrace. To my surprise it was full of middle-aged people, who to my young eyes were unattractive and overweight. Not at all like the photographs in the book. I glanced at a woman's legs bulging with purple veins, remembering the promises in the book that practising yoga would prevent such abominations happening. Perhaps she started too late I thought to myself.

As I sat cross-legged (I could sit in the lotus position the first time I tried) chanting voices filled the room with an unfamiliar humming sound. Although I'd been attracted by more than just the promises of eternal youth, the real reason for my interest remained esoteric. I knew I wouldn't go back there but as I left, the Indian gentleman clasped my hands, looked me straight in the eye and told me softly that in my next life I would find the Right Path. I knew nothing then of Buddhist philosophy but understood the sincerity of the message.

I've had an on-off relationship with yoga ever since, and I became a vegetarian ten years ago.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

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