When I first started practicing yoga regularly, I was about twenty. I had a gym membership at the time which included lots of free fitness classes, but before I knew it I was hooked on yoga. I had always loved exercise, but with Yoga it was different: I got a unique feeling which kept me coming back for more.
My final year of University when I became truly yoga-inspired. I was practicing Kundalini Yoga and Mantra chanting at the time which is pretty powerful stuff! (above).
Five years prior to this, when I was about 15, I had been to one yoga class with my mum. I remember thinking it just wasn’t for me: it was a slow class and I was a high energy child who could not sit still for a second without fidgeting!
Little did I know how things would change: that “yoga” in the broadest sense of the word would come to be one of the biggest parts of my life and I would even travel to India on my own aged 22 to train to be a yoga and meditation teacher.
Looking back on it now, I acknowledge that all the reasons I thought yoga was not for me during that first experience turned out to be the exact reasons why I needed yoga in my life so badly. My mind was erratic.
Looking back on it now, I acknowledge that all the reasons I thought yoga was not for me during that first class experience turned out to be the exact reasons why I needed yoga in my life so badly.
My mind was erratic: I was never felt truly calm and found it hard to concentrate.
I found myself jumping between 101 thoughts simultaneously and would sometimes get lost in catastrophic thinking patterns surrounding my health. I also found it near impossible to spend time alone.
I wasn’t unhappy per se: i had lots of friends and a great social life.
But I was ungrounded and went through cycles of feeling extremley low and overwhelmed.
I used all sorts of means to distract myself, partying and so forth, only for the cycle to commence again.
Yoga was like coming home.
Falling in love with yoga at home all those years ago. Of course, having been a qualified teacher for over a year now, I know not to have my foot resting on my knee! (Above).
Overtime, and without me directly realising it, I was cultivating a space where I could just be. I was finally learning to spend time alone with myself through movement and breath in my personal yoga practice.
The erratic thoughts and anxieties I had experienced were still there, but suddenly they wern't so scary.
I began to bear witness to the rising and passing of these thoughts, understanding they are only one aspect of myself and do not define me.
Spending time embodied in my practice: my mind and body flowing together, without external distractions such as television or social media enabled me to become more connected to myself as a whole through this experience of breath, being and movement.
My yoga practice is often changing depending on what my body-mind needs, and teaching has its own challenges as the experience of your students comes before your own. But I am so grateful to have found a practice which allows me to be me: to explore the space and stillness within. Each time I give myself that time to go inwards, I am learning more and more about myself in subtler and subtler ways.
Talk to any dedicated student, teacher or practitioner and they all have a similar story- in some way or another, “yoga saved my life.” I remember this very clearly from my Yoga Teacher Training course.
At the end of my Yoga Teacher Training course in Traditional Hatha and Tantra Yoga, on the holy mother river Ganges, India. I am on the far left doing a mudra (hand posture) that looks rather like a gang sign! (Above).
My time spent on the mat, in my body and studying the philosophies surrounding these practices has left me feeling calmer, more relaxed and generally a happier person.
I have always been inquisitive by nature: my yoga, movement and meditation practices have become a form of self-inquiry embodied not by words and awnsers, but by the subtlety of being, breath and movement.
These practices and philosophies have given my life a greater sense of meaning because they equally value mind and body, but also the all-encompassing spirit which connects us to each other, and therefore our "self" in its fullest most universal expression.
In the next instalment of this blog, I will be talking more specifically about the philosophy of yoga and what I might mean by “yoga” in the broadest sense of the word….
Until next time, Sat nam
Me during my Yoga Teacher Training course looking pretty blissed out. It was an all women's course which was exactly what I wanted and it allowed me to embrace the more feminine aspects of myself through dance as well as yoga (above).