A sharing of my yogic journey so far.
Growing up, I was all the things you wouldn’t want your teenage daughter to be. I was feisty, I was promiscuous, I cared far too much about my appearance and I took many things in my life for granted. This all changed when I was 16 and I suffered the loss of an immediate family member. From this moment on my whole life changed, my family life fell apart and suddenly nothing that was important before seemed to matter. However, I pushed through as best I could, telling myself I had to be there for my family, wanting to appear ‘strong’ and trying to avoid acting like a victim of life.
Yoga is comprised of 8 limbs, with the physical practice – the asana (the stuff you do in class), making up only 1/8. During this time, yoga was not yet a permanent fixture in my life, but I did go to dance class most days after school. Dancing became my Asana, allowing me to leave any bad thoughts and feelings at the studio door and focus purely on moving my body. I was introduced to yoga shortly after by a dance teacher, and regularly practiced at a Hare Krishna temple near my house.
Even though I was practicing often, I was using yoga and dance to further numb myself the thoughts and feelings I was already suppressing. It was only a few years later at university when I joined The House of Yoga and began working in the reception, that I really embraced everything that yoga had to offer me. I started to become aware of my own body, of my thoughts and of my feelings. Through a very tearful conversation with some of my friends there I realised that during the last 5 years of my life I had been shut off from my feelings (someone did once tell me that to have a breakthrough you first have to endure a breakdown). I realised my sadness had been manifesting itself in my relationships, my anger had been coming out towards my family, and in my attempt to appear ‘strong’ I had completely neglected myself. As I reflected I noticed that I had deliberately kept myself busy so I didn’t have to feel, but every few months I would breakdown, having panic attacks and moments of hysterical tears, but never really understanding why. I hated being alone and I was a slave to my own thoughts, often worrying about things out of my control and allowing myself to be get worked up and upset over them. I can see now that I was a very anxious and angry person, although at the time I would have undoubtably denied this.
Yoga has provided me with the space I needed in my life to heal. I have learnt how to focus on my breathing and how to quiet my mind. My relationships have improved, I have started to see the beauty in everything, and it is only now that I feel truly happy that I can see how painfully unhappy I was before and how little love or respect I had for myself.
Of course yoga has been beneficial to me in many other ways. I am more conscious about what I put in my body, I have learnt how to meditate and how great regular meditation is, I have found comfort in spirituality, I’ve learnt to love myself and my body and accept that it will never look like the girls in the magazines (something that was very important to me before), I take better care of myself and have become a vibrant and happy person. It has also helped my dance practice, keeping me strong and flexible and allowing me to change my perspectives and habits to uncover a more creative and authentic way of moving.
I know I still have a long way to go but every time I step onto my mat I am grateful that I am on this path. I am training to be a yoga teacher in the hope that I can help others with yoga in the way that it has helped me.
I leave you with quote from one of my favourite music artists (big up Bob Marley):
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”