10/02/14: My story

During the last few months I have asked students to write short pieces about the benefits they receive from yoga. I wanted to share my story...

I was introduced to yoga by my ex-boyfriend. At the time I was suffering from anxiety and crippling panic attacks and didn’t know where else to turn. These were the by-products of a difficult childhood which had left my esteem in tatters and my nervous system shot to pieces. This had been emphasised by an abusive relationship, ironically also a result of my dysfunctional childhood. Although my parents did the best job they could, love was never modelled to me in a way I could understand or feel.

I initially practiced yoga with no preconceptions but I found I hated it. As someone who had never enjoyed physical exercise and lived a very unhealthy lifestyle, it was a shock to the system. However, at some level it appealed to me and I began to attend classes religiously once a week. I loved the moments of absolute peace and clarity it gave me – something I had rarely experienced before. As I had absolutely no ego with regards to the physical practice, I was surprisingly able: I had such faith in my teacher that if he said ‘jump through to sitting’, I did!

Over time I started to practice on my own regularly and found I wanted to learn other aspects of yoga. It is such a fascinating and massive subject. During my sixteen years of practice, yoga has taught me how to steady my mind and calm my nervous system and it has helped me find my voice and be truthful. Yoga has enabled me to develop my awareness in such a way I can recognise my own unhealthy thoughts and separate myself from them; it has helped me to break my own destructive patterns of behaviour, and it helps me to forgive others and forgive myself when I haven’t behaved in accordance with my potential. Yoga allows me to be vulnerable and share my vulnerability. Yoga has given me opportunities to travel the world and draw many good people into my life. Physically, it has sculpted my body and made me strong and flexible. (I feel a little glib listing yoga’s benefits in this way but this is the purpose of the piece...)

During my journey, I have undertaken two teacher trainings and many courses. I never intended to teach; I had the opportunity of taking over some classes and it felt as though the universe was directing me. This feels right to me – yoga was never about working or business, although, of course, us yoga teachers don’t live on prana alone. I teach from the heart: I will never be the most advanced practitioner or the most ‘zenned out’ person. I teach what I know and feel very rewarded when people leave my classes in a blissed out state or when I receive good feedback. I feel so grateful to have yoga in my life and to share with others. Although I recognise I am a work in progress, at 41 years of age, I have never been in better shape mentally or physically.