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 hated and suffered from exhausting bouts of anxiety. Yoga really helped to turn all of that around. To me it’s like a ancient form of cognitive behavioural therapy but one that works not only on a mental and emotional level, but a physical 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 hunched 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 these practices were healing for me, both physically and mentally. 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, Nicola, whose healing touch and gentle guidance lit a spark within me that continues to burn bright. Claire Missingham, whose training provided a deep richness from where I could really start my teaching journey and Ana Forrest and Forrest guardian Jambo Truong for their unique approach to this healing practice. Added to this, I continued to be inspired by teachers ranging many lineages from Kia Miller to Tiffany Cruickshank and Jason Crandel to name but a few.
I am only at the beginning of what I know will be a lifelong journey into yoga and yet already it is part of who I am, I know there is 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!). That’s why nothing excites me more than to be able to share its teachings through my own words and experiences with others in the hope that you too can experience its positive effects in whatever way you need it right now. Yoga has taught me that all I am is enough and my mission is that you know you are too.
These days when I’m off my mat, you’ll find me out in the wilds, jumping in puddles and collecting sticks with my own little adventurous son and guru, Angus.