They call her the Godmother of Yoga. And last week she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. (sorry)
A few days ago I was lucky enough to attend a class with Barbara Currie, one of the first teachers who brought this ancient Eastern method of exercise to crossover into the British main stream.
Long before it became a multi-million pound lifestyle industry a young Barbara first struck a warrior pose in a Scottish village hall where she had moved to live with her husband and two small children. Basically she joined a local class in order to get out of the house, it was either that or Highland dancing. Despite initial concerns that it might be some sort of cult, she grew to love it and eventually trained to become a teacher.
Cut to several decades later she is still teaching, runs a successful yoga studio in Surrey, has several DVDs and regularly appears on TV.
At 74 she looks amazing and is a walking advert for practising yoga. She is far stronger and more flexible than most 20-30 somethings and has an enviable figure and face. Despite a market crowded with celeb yoga gurus, it’s easy to buy into Barbara as a yoga teacher precisely because of her age and expertise.
Firstly, anyone could be tempted to give it a go when confronted with the Barbara-shaped evidence that regular practice could mean you enjoy your golden years illness free and looking great!
Secondly Barbara has an un-showy credibility that comes from 40 years + teaching mixed ability classes, before it was fashionable. One of the things I liked about her instruction was the way she explained the physiology of each pose, the effect it has on the body and what it can help you with. This both encourages you to do the posture and helps you streamline your daily practice to focus on key areas of concern.
Although she knows her yoga inside out and teaches the importance of breath & energy, if you are a fan of cod-spiritual chanting, sex grunting, sweating, piercings & tatts, Terry Richardson style porno-grunge outfits & stories from the Ashram (you know who you are) then maybe this isn’t for you.
However if you like properly executed Hatha without any of the intimidating posing or om-ing, then this will be right up your street.
The ‘Power Packed Yoga’ DVD lives up to its name and this has some challenging moments but it’s well paced and explained and easy to keep up with.
Barbara’s key tips to be bendy, strong and youthful at 74.
1) Start each day with the sun salute sequence as demo’d here.
2) Finish each day with a headstand or some sort of inversion. This will aid a restful night and help you avoid the inevitable facial sagging and jowls which come with age.
3) Stick to a paleo diet as much as you can.
Barbara was an early adopter of this having worked as a nurse in the gastro unit of St Mary’s, Paddington, London where doctors first posited the idea that avoiding processed food, refined sugar and grains would prevent the vast majority of illnesses afflicting their patients.
It’s definitely paid off for her anyway. And inspired by Barbara I’m off to do my morning sun salute.
Enjoy the rest of your Friday. Namaste.
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