I have been practising yoga for probably close to a decade and started it as a way of supporting my other fitness activities – particularly dancing and long-distance running.
My original drive to do yoga was – to be honest – fairly devoid of any spiritual drive or desire to be more mindful. I saw it as a way be bendy and toned and the mid-20-something me probably admired the bodies of celebrities and their chat of hours of ashtanga yoga every day.
I started practising waaay before the emergence of Instagram and the carefully crafted photo shoots… but there was probably still something about the way yoga poses looked that was part of the initial appeal.
Underneath all that, I think there was a not-quite-fully acknowledged desire for stillness and peace that was lacking in my life as a journalist juggling a multitude of deadlines and the general dramas of life.
I found that I really loved the ritual of the class, the flowing sequences of vinyasa yoga, the way a class can move in unison and bit-by-bit you end up just concentrating on the moves, the lines, the breath, the teacher’s voice and there was no more room in your head to think about anything that you had been worried about before. By the time I reached savasana, I felt like I had been put back together and felt more capable of facing the world.
To me, yoga is like a dance except that you are not performing for anyone else, and you didn’t have to stress out too much about learning a new routine.
After around 6 months of dabbling in yoga all those years ago, I headed off to Ibiza to spend a week in a yoga retreat – which fortunately (for me at the time) wasn’t too “retreat-like” mixing up early morning yoga sessions, vegetarian food and evenings with sangria on the beach. But it was there that my love of yoga really started to lay its roots.
Since then I’ve read as much as I can about the practice and roots of yoga, I’ve attended numerous classes and workshops, been taught by some incredible teachers both here in London and in Dubai (where I lived for almost three years). There have been more retreats to Turkey, back to Ibiza, and then finally after idly googling ‘how can I live in Bali?’ too many times at work – I took a leap of faith and set off for the promised Indonesian island to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2015.
More recently I’ve started to learn more about supporting women through pre- and post-natal yoga, qualifying as a pregnancy yoga teacher in 2018.
And yet after a decade, there is still so much to learn. Every move can be developed and expanded. I’m far from the perfect yogi with the perfect handstands. I’m still working on my fear of headstands on a regular basis!
And there’s all the stuff off the yoga mat – being calmer, being grateful, kind, mindful, accepting, and appreciating the good in the world. There’s a lot to work to do there too.
But yoga can just be about having fun! You are just spending an hour or so exploring what your body can do, or just rediscovering what it probably could do when you were seven years old in the playground.
Standing on one leg and falling over, touching your toes – or not, handstands (or attempts at them), pretending to be a tree.. this is all yoga and can be so much fun. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously.
Hopefully as a teacher I can provide yogis not only a space to breathe and feel calm, but also somewhere to just have fun… smile.. and be that 7-year-old again who isn’t afraid of falling over.