I’ve been practising yoga since I was a teenager, when I went along to a class at a local health club with a friend and was immediately hooked.
Although I’m quite tall, I was never any good at sport – I couldn’t see the point of chasing a ball around, or running towards nothing – but yoga just seemed to hit the spot with me. I loved the way it seemed to have mental benefits as well as the physical work out; it fitted in with my ambition to be a brainy history scholar, like my father.
Running-addicted friends tell me you get the same brain boost from cardiovascular effort, but it’s the slow, quiet yoga buzz that works for me.
I tried as many different styles and teachers as I could find in Cambridge, where I grew up, and learned the discipline of daily solo practice when I went to university at St Andrews in Scotland, where there were no yoga classes at all in those days. (I bet there are hundreds now!)
The possibilities expanded exponentially when I moved to London to do an MA and one of my yoga teachers there suggested I train to teach it, which turned out to be a very handy way to make some cash while studying, but then quite unexpectedly became my career.
It fitted in brilliantly with having kids and it was very portable when my husband’s work – took us to lots of different places, including a couple of great years in Sydney. (He’s a history academic too, like my dad was, although specialising in a very different period. My dad’s thing was the Scottish Englightenment, but my husband’s area is mostly 20th century and all about war. He has a lot of books about tanks.)
I do at least thirty minutes of yoga every morning, plus twenty minutes of meditation, whether I’m teaching or not. I really don’t think I could function without it. Even when my kids were tiny I found the time.
The smells I associate with yoga are all contradictory. Freshly-showered bodies and sweat. A whiff of honeysuckle floating in through the window mixed with hot feet on rubber mats.
Clear-headed, pure air, ozonic freshness – and deep oriental mystery. Stillness and invigorating renewal. Feminine grace and masculine strength. Anima and animus.
My scents of yoga are:
Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine by Grandiflora
Lime, Basil and Mandarin by Jo Malone
Exhale by B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful
Pour Monsieur by Chanel
Oud by Maison Francois Kurkdijan
New West Her by Aramis
Black Lapsang by Bohdidharma