I came to yoga by accident although these days I don’t think anything in life happens by accident. I’ve always been active and growing up was a competitive swimmer and horse rider. As an adult I got into mountain biking and escaped the city on weekends into the hills. During the week I was hooked on spinning classes at the gym. So I have to say I was more than miffed when my morning spin class was replaced by yoga. But then I decided to give it a go, especially since people had been telling me for years to try it out given the break neck speed approach I took to everything in life.
When I first came to yoga, I was running on empty, had terrible digestive problems and experienced inflammation of my joints due to an autoimmune disease. I was in a job that I dreaded going to every day and suffered from bouts of anxiety. Yoga really helped to turn all of that around. To me it’s like a ancient form of cognitive behavioural therapy that not only works on a physical level but also a mental and emotional one too.
I’m not a naturally flexible person but you don’t have to be, not physically at least! I remember that first class, downward dog didn’t seem anything like a relaxing pose to me with my locked shoulders and screaming hamstrings and then there was the small matter of breathing! But nothing need stay the same, we all have the power in us to make small changes and it’s true that with a little bit of practice, you will start to notice positive changes to body and mind.
In those first yoga classes, I was unaware of the philosophy of yoga or of the intricacies of its therapeutic benefits. And the beauty is that I didn’t need to understand any of that, the evidence was in how I felt. My breath would be become longer and deeper, my body would feel more open and strong, my negative mental chatter would quieten, my anxiety levels would drop, and gradually, the feeling of the world’s weight on my shoulders would almost completely dissipate by the end of a class. Sometimes I would cry and sometimes I would laugh, sometimes I would let go and other times I would find strength. Gradually a pattern was emerging that demonstrated the interplay between mind, body and breath and yoga’s ability to harness it in a most positive way. I felt like I had space to breathe again for the first time in years.
I feel very fortunate enough to have had some amazingly inspiring teachers in my life both on and off the mat. My first yoga teacher with whom I owe for opening my eyes to the magic of yoga, whose healing touch and gentle guidance lit a spark within me that continues to burn bright. My family who have always encouraged me to follow my heart, my close friends who continue to lend an ear and have kept me grounded through my moments of madness. And then there is my husband… who has taught me to let go, to enjoy the journey, that love expects nothing in return, and who despite enduring the smell of josticks, hours of chanting and frequent requests to be my yoga guinea pig, never fails to be there for me. Thankyou for giving me the courage to follow this exciting path.
I am only at the beginning of what I know will be a lifelong journey into yoga and yet already I feel so passionate about it, as though someone has switched on a light inside me showing me a different way to live, to be grateful, to strive to be a better person, (although I am human and still get this wrong at times!). Nothing excites me more than to be able to share its teachings through my own words and experiences with others in the hope that they too can experience its positive effects and be happier, healthier people.
These days when I’m off my mat, you’ll find me enjoying some quality ‘Summer’ time (see below), escaping into the hills on two wheels or two legs, embracing my inner dolphin in the swimming pool or hanging out with my loved ones with a warming chai tea in hand.