I would say that Yoga has saved my life.
Growing up in the 60’s with parents who created a high level of stress for our family by moving every 6 -12 months, I became very introverted and shut down. Years later yoga was to became my sanctuary. Yoga opens us up on so many levels and helps us to overcome limitations which hold us back, or shut us down and stop us feeling enough.
My yoga style has changed a lot over the years. It was first and foremost about the physical practice and how it made my muscles and body feel. Then it came to mean more about being present with myself and being in the moment, my sanctuary to meditate and feel. Like an inner smile is perhaps the best way to describe it.
I’ve learnt to appreciate how this body that I once disliked has limitations that I admittedly need to work on, but not to the point of forcing it to look like a perfect selfie or instagram shot.
In earlier years I’ve stood on my head, turned myself practically inside out and pushed myself to over-perform, even with yoga. Luckily, these days, I care more about remaining functionally fit and mobile.
Our bodies are constantly changing and adapting to what we do or don’t do. I’m so pleased that I found Yoga and my body has adapted to being it’s best. My yoga brings strength, flexibility, stability, muscle tone and balance. I am looking forward to enjoying yoga for another 38 plus years.
I was introduced to yoga in 1983 when, after working in gyms, I suffered numerous muscle strains from the impact of taking more than one aerobics class in a day and constantly working with heavy weights. I needed to find a solution.
I started with a style called Iyengar after Mr BKS Iyengar (1918-2014) one of yoga’s chief ambassadors and a style known for it’s detailed structural approach. Props were encouraged to enable one to access the more challenging poses and to hold the poses in good form and for longer periods.
I loved this teaching, for it complemented the body building, cardio workouts and aerobics I was doing. So much so that I gave away all other personal work outs and started attending Iyengar yoga classes 3-4 times a week. This was a blessing and the beginning of my journey towards a better balance in my life and learning more about myself, a journey I am still on some 38 years later.
I have experienced Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding, flowing style guaranteed to make one sweat. The emphasis is on internal locks (bandhas) and a powerful breath (ujjayi). This style led me to learn and teach Power Yoga, which is a stronger version of the Vinyasa Flow that is the main stream everywhere now. I have tried Kundalini yoga which I like immensely for its use of strong core practice and use of pranayama (breath).
Restorative yoga is another of my go-to practices to self nurture myself. The use of props, e.g. blocks, bolsters and blankets allow one to stay in poses longer, giving a feeling of being held and supported, ideal for relaxation and rejuvenation. It is especially beneficial for nervous exhaustion and stress overload.
I use some movements from all these styles of yoga, along with dance and bodywork to guide myself and my clients to feeling more empowered within their own bodies. Yoga I feel saved my life because it gave me a sense of belonging, a sense of achievement, a greater purpose and has enabled me to learn so much about myself.
I was fortunate to have the time to follow my heart and seek out some great teachers, attend workshops and retreats all over the world. As an aside to yoga I have always loved to dance and have gotten to perform many styles of dance over the years. I feel that yoga has enabled me to remain mobile, agile and strong.
Yoga has given me a sense of balance, has enabled me to handle the stress that is a constant these days, has assisted me to handle depression, an overeating issue and the courage to leave a marriage that was not working out. I also feel that yoga and my interest in nutrition allowed me to have an easier time with menopause.
The practice of yoga aims at overcoming the limitations of the body, capitalizing on us being more than our parts. Yoga teaches us that the goal of every individual’s life is to take the inner journey to the soul. Yoga not only offers the end goal it it offers the means of getting there. It allows a sense of oneness, mindfulness or just a knowing, similar to the inner smile mentioned earlier.
I have always been interested in my health, my appearance and being the best possible me. I enjoy feeling vibrant and mobile and these days I am no longer the shy, awkward, introverted girl I was. I enjoy my time on the mat, be that for 10 minutes or 1 hour. I am inspired daily to do what comes naturally, through observation and the awareness of how I am feeling that day.
Yoga is not a panacea, but it is a powerful medicine for the body, mind and spirit. Above all, yoga is a path. The longer you stay with it and the more you put into the journey, the further it can take you.
“Words cannot convey the value of yoga, it has to be experienced”