Do you remember the girl at school, the one who in P.E. was last to get picked because she came last in almost every sports event. That was me. I’ve never been sporty, nor particularly competitive. And honestly, I didn’t mind. Ok, so it was a little embarrassing!
After my school years I started exercising mainly to improve my energy levels and de-stress from a busy career. I always chose dance-based classes, something fun and my attempts were sporadic. To say I’m surprised to find myself working in the wellness industry as a yoga teacher is an understatement.
I’d read a lot about natural health remedies, nutrition and eastern philosophies including yoga. It was a growing interest that still continues to grow.
However, it wasn’t until a car accident that left me with chronic back pain and regular migraines, that my yoga journey began.
I received weekly osteopathy treatment for almost three years. Treatment offered pain relief for a few days before returning. I then moved on to chiropractic treatment, having adjustments three times a week to begin with. Treatment continued over two years, but the adjustments refused to take hold. I was in pain all the time and migraines were debilitating. I realised that no amount of ‘treatment’ was going to help long term. I had to learn to heal myself.
During this five year period I experimented with lots of other therapies, but felt confused by conflicting messages and very alone in my quest to wellness.
I walked into my first yoga class, in an attempt to relieve my back pain. It was tough. My body complained, it ached, it hurt, I got angry, I cried, but I persisted.
The changes were slow and gradual. Lying in relaxation at the end of the class was incredibly painful. This went on for some time, but something kept drawing me back to class.
I can’t say exactly when, but over time the pain lessened. I started to feel better, somehow lighter in mind and body. My yoga class became an essential part of my week. I started to explore different classes, attend workshops and eventually embarked on my first teacher training course. Fifteen years later, yoga has become a way of life and a passion that I love to share with others.
I still experience pain from time to time, but now I know how to manage it, I know my triggers and have learnt to adapt my life accordingly, I’ve come to understand the relationship between food and how I feel, yoga keeps me in touch with what I need, which isn’t always the same as what I want.
My yoga practice has continued to evolve over the years. It helps me to tune in to how I’m really feeling, to hear my intuition more clearly on and off the mat. Creating the time and space to spend on my mat has had a ripple effect out into my life. Helping me to notice the way I spend my time, who I spend it with, what I eat, my thoughts, what I choose to listen to all affect how I feel, encouraging me to reflect on what I need to change and how I want to be in the world.
I’ve learnt to adapt my practice to how I’m feeling day to day, using my yoga to shift tiredness and energise me, or to guide me into a deep rest when I need to nurture myself.
The rewards are vast and often come in subtle ways, you may find a grumpy mood lifts before it takes hold, you feel motivated to make yourself a fresh juice or cook a healthy meal, rather than order pizza, you decide to turn off netflix and walk the dog instead, despite the rain.
I’m often asked ‘what kind of yoga do you do?’ For me it’s not a straightforward answer. If you’ve read my about page you will know that I have trained in various different styles of yoga and while I’m influenced by them all, Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow is at the heart of my personal practice and teaching. Although I call my classes Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Shiva Rea’s teachings filter through.
Vinyasa means to flow, connecting breath and movement, moving consciously through a sequence of postures (asanas), with your breath as your guide. The practice is relaxed yet dynamic, focusing on the present moment and moving in and out of asanas with strength and grace, inspiring confidence to listen and respond to your body’s needs.
In reality, I teach who is in front of me and adapt the practice for the individual, responding to their needs, teaching more intuitively, whether I’m with a private client or teaching a class.
Yoga is the anchor in my life, the one thing that keeps me grounded, open and strong. It brings me back to calm when I lose it, it helps me to shed what I no longer need and gives me the courage to follow the breadcrumbs left behind by my intuition, those inklings that it’s time to make a change, however scary. It keeps me learning, growing, ever evolving.
We’ve all read about the vast array of benefits a regular yoga practice brings, relaxation, better sleep, reduces stress levels, increases energy levels, improves strength and flexibility etc, but I implore you to discover for yourself what unique benefits a yoga practice of your own will bring into your life.
I often talk about the magic of yoga. I witness the transformation clients go through and it is truly amazing to watch the magic of yoga unfold. For each person it happens in it’s own beautiful way.
You may start yoga as a physical practice as I did, but it quickly becomes so much more. For me it gave me a deep sense of connection that was lacking in my life.
The magic of yoga lies in its subtleties.
There is a ripple effect of practicing yoga that moves out into the far reaching corners of your life. From who you spend time with, how you interact with others, what you choose to feed yourself, the thoughts that occupy your mind, it will shine a light on the things that are calling out for attention. Gradually and subtly your life will start to change shape for the better as you tune in to you – your body, mind, heart and soul. Trust in the process and the rewards will be so much better than you can imagine!
This is a long post, so thank you for making it to the end! I’d love to hear about your yoga journey. What changes has yoga brought to you and your life? Let me know in the comments below.
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