My Dru Yoga story

“Why not go to the next Dru day? There’s one in London coming up soon” this was my mum during a conversation on the phone back in 2007, another phonecall chewing through possibilities of what I could do with my life. I had recently stopped acting, I ended a 12-year career as an actress, after spending 6 months in Paris – loving the city but hating the play I was doing. I had known a feeling deep within me for some time that told me there was something else I should be doing, what that was hadn’t become clear to me yet, but I had quit my agent and was searching for it as best I could.

“Yes, I’ll check it out, I’ll see when it is,” I remember getting off the phone, a mixture of confusion and frustration rising within me as I thought about how much I still had no idea what I was meant to be doing.

I looked up the date and it was soon and I felt a surge of excitement at the prospect of trying something new like this.

At the age of 56 my mum had embarked on 4 years of study to become a Dru Yoga teacher in North Wales. I couldn’t have been more proud going to her graduation and seeing her become a fully fledged yogi at the wonderful age of 60, a new way of life stretching out (excuse the pun) in front of her.

The Dru Yoga day came and I went along, knowing a little of what to expect having heard things from my mum over the previous 4 years, but the reality was that I had never actually experienced anything so astoundingly profound and deeply connecting before and I signed up there and then to do the 2 year teacher training that was being offered in London.

I had done a little bit of yoga before, and I was interested in spirituality, in finding out about the nature of reality, I had always felt and known that there was something going on in life that was far greater than my comprehension. I had no idea what it was though or indeed how to implement it into my daily life to make life flow better, and in the years before coming to Dru, I found solace in other methods of connection such as recreational drugs and alcohol.

Dru quite literally changed my life. I started my training and I found that it was filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Not only did my body feel amazing from practising, which is going to happen when you start any sort of physical discipline, but I was also having some profound insights and I felt more connected to that greater part of us I was talking about earlier.

One of the biggest insights and there were many, was learning about The Koshas. The Koshas are different layers of the human, according to the yogic tradition. Understanding myself for the first time as someone made up of these layers completely blew me away. When I talk about understanding I don’t mean an intellectual understanding, although I will explain a little more about the Koshas here so you get an idea of what I mean by them, but I really mean an experiential understanding, Its often hard to describe this fully but the inner knowing and peace arriving in the body and mind as a result takes a person to a new level of understanding themselves.

I’ll explain The Koshas in a little more detail: we’ll start at the inner layer and work outwards

1.The blissful layer at the centre of it all, The Anandamaya Kosha. The self. Silent and still. Pure awareness beyond the labels that we put on things in life. Here the self resides in bliss. Also known as the Casual body. (The next layers are called the Subtle body)

2. The thought layer, The Vijnamaya Kosha, which surrounds the Casual body, close to pure awareness is the process of thought. We can include both conscious and unconscious thought here. Having self-mastery in this area means our ego-consciousness, our I-am-ness is kept in check and we are not acting so much from our outer emotions and desires but more from our inner blissful layer.

3. The emotional layer, The Manamaya Kosha, the layer of emotions and feelings. This is where thoughts get converted into actions. Having emotional maturity is so crucial here so we don’t get blindsided by our thoughts and feelings and can act instead from our blissful layer, not the self that simply acts in the world.

4. The energetic layer, The Pranamaya Kosha, corresponding to our physiology -the way we work- the life processes. The result, when we are aware, have clarity and discernment is good health and well-being.

5. The physical layer, The Annamaya Kosha, the gross body, the skeleton and everything that physically makes up what many people perceive to be ‘who we are’. Here is where we act in the world.

The gross and subtle bodies are layers surrounding our real nature. There is a flow of energy and information between all these layers and in yoga, we call this Prana Shakti (life energy).

We all have different game changers in life.

If we are searching for it there are situations, teachings and discoveries that allow us some profound insight into the ‘something greater’, and we don’t forget them. Those Ah-ha’s that feel wide and open and as though you are falling into infinite space. Getting to know The Koshas was definitely one of mine.

I became a Dru yoga teacher and then I studied some more and I brought Dru to children with special needs, I also devised Dru workshops to be run with disadvantaged young people who were close to homelessness. It then came that I had to take a break and raising a child was where my life took me for the next 5 years. One of my greatest blessings and greatest teachings all at once.

In the meantime, Sue started teaching a Dru class in Hay-on-wye, a town near where I grew up, nestled near Radnorshire and the Brecon Beacons and home to the popular literary festival that happens there once a year.

It had crossed my mind when I first graduated to team up and do something with Sue. Surely we must! Here we are, both Dru Yogis, mother and daughter, we could do something lovely, but we never did, and time passed.

Clover, my daughter is now 5 and I got very interested in the nature of mind over these years and so took further training as a Mindfulness Practitioner. This blends so very well with Dru yoga, both focusing on finding our still point, on allowing a sense of peace into our being, slowing down and moving with awareness to recognise this moment as being all there is.

So here we are in the present day and my mum and I have now decided to join forces and offer a day of Dru Yoga and Mindfulness.

The first of a seasonal offering where we can honour the cycle of life and come together to laugh and move and breathe in ways which nourish our souls and warms our hearts.

Expect some flowing Dru sequences, mindful meditation and visualisation, fun, games and exercises, group Mexican wave yoga, warming breathing techniques and deep relaxation. Please bring a mat and a blanket and cushion if you have, although there will be some spare on the day. Please also bring a pot luck vegetarian dish that we can share together for lunch, there will be plenty of teas/coffee and snacks provided!

Please see the flyer for information of the address and times.

To book you can either PayPal me at katepenning@yahoo.co.uk or

email katepenningkp@gmail.com and I will send you my bank details.

Much love Kate xx

“Life is not tomorrow or even in the next ten minutes.  Life is here …now… in this moment” Mansukh Patel