What yoga means to me
I think an accurate word that described me as a child was hyperactive. Even to this day I experience massive surges of energy that without an appropriate and healthy outlet turn into mood slumps, irritability, eating rubbish and other less desirable behaviours! In my younger years I was an avid dancer – a hobby which stopped completely when I turned 18 and realised I was finding no fulfilment pursuing it as a career. Then began a period of physical stagnation which lasted for several years. Although I was stretching my mind within this time – namely by training as a Speech and Language Therapist so that I could further help the children with autism whom I had started (and was loving) working with – I was neglecting my body and physical health. As many young university goers do, I happily danced the night away with a few drinks down me, but apart from the odd walk or cycle ride on top of this, was really not moving much.
Fast forward a few years and moving back to my hometown now as a qualified therapist… Becoming more settled and with a slower pace of life emerging, I happened to go along to a yoga class run by a friend. I have read accounts of people who say they went along to their first yoga class and boom! they were never the same again… My experience wasn’t like that. It was a slow burner for me. I definitely enjoyed my first class although it felt a little ‘out there’, but mostly I remember standing in the shower the next morning (replace with ‘later that evening’ if this sits better with you hygienically!) and realising I had not been standing on my feet properly. I know this sounds ridiculous, we all stand on our feet don’t we?! But I realised that my weight had been distributed in funny ways across my feet, and later came to learn this would be having profound ‘knock-on’ effects up and into the rest of my body… (Now you come to mention it yes I had been having back pain for some time, hmm…)
Fast forward again to a few years later and I’ve been going to my weekly Ashtanga yoga class ‘religiously’ every week and one day I realise… I LOVE YOGA! At this point I still had not read a single book or even an article on the subject, it was a practical, ‘doing’ thing for me. I had no idea of the epic ancient lineage of the practice and didn’t really understand how it all worked but I knew it was making me feel so much better. Through practicing yoga I was becoming more aware of myself in my entirety, warts and all. Sounds bizarre as many people go to yoga BECAUSE they know they are suffering from anxiety or depression… For me it was not until I was some way down the line with yoga that I realised I had been experiencing on and off both of these things… Sometimes people are not even aware that they are suffering and only realise because they come to experience another (and better) way of being! Or more accurately I think my subconscious knew, hence why I was drawn to that first class, and to continue despite my ignorance… Something inside me knew just what I needed 🙂
So this slow burning thing has eventually become a shining beacon that lights up every aspect of my life. Through the additional training I have now undertaken, to my absolute joy (and sometimes disbelief) I am now sharing the simple yet profound gift of the practice which has been shared with me by my teachers, with family, friends, the amazing children I work with and their families. I have travelled to India, the spiritual home of yoga to train with Masters. I have increased my weekly practice to several times a week and have seen the benefits and life enhancements increase at the same rate and intensity. It is difficult to summarise just what yoga means to me now but here are some words that spring to mind:
Integration – all the scattered pieces of you come to settle where they should be.
Empowerment – you come to know your body and grow wiser with this knowledge.
Ease – your body becomes your friend and an asset instead of your enemy and a burden.
Energy – you have it when you need it, and you channel it when it’s tending towards negative expression.
Connection – from a place of better wellbeing you can connect with others more whole-ly.
Self-love – when all is said and done you only have yourself and won’t be any good for helping others if you’re broken.
Expression – be yourself like there’s no tomorrow.
Acceptance – everything that everyone is and everything that they experience is of equal worth and value in the world.
Celebration – being alive is awesome!