When I turned 30, I decided after years of hitting the gym to stay fit that it just wasn’t working for me anymore. I hated weight training and found endless hours on a tread mill to be like watching paint dry, yes, I’ve tried it and it’s dull.
A friend of mine was a yoga teacher and had a really peaceful manner, she always seemed relaxed and happy and had lots of energy. That added to the fact that she was in great shape and never seemed to break a sweat made me think that maybe I should give yoga a go.
I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know the difference between Hatha and Ashtanga let alone all of the other foreign sounding names. Granted they sounded very romantic but I really didn’t have a clue where to begin. Added to that, I wasn’t flexible at all; I could barely touch my toes and the idea of standing on my head? No thanks!
My friend suggested that I try a beginner’s class with Sivananda in Putney. I lived in Wandsworth at the time so it was close and they ran a beginners program. So I decided to give it a go and like all those with good exercise intentions, I went right out to buy a mat, blocks, books and much more besides.
I still remember my first yoga class, it felt like torture. It wasn’t that everybody was really bendy; it was just damn hard work! I had this idea that yoga was just waving your arms about and chanting a bit, boy was I wrong. It was a carefully combined series of movements including balances and stretches designed to work on stamina, stretch and concentration.
Needless to say the next day I felt sore in a way I hadn’t felt with my usual gym workout but I stuck to it and kept going, twice a week for 90-minute sessions. A couple of weeks in and a female colleague asked if I was working out, I was flattered and surprised and just said I had taken up yoga. That really inspired me to continue and so on I went.
When I moved out of London some time later, I was living in a rural location and there wasn’t any real option locally for classes aside from the typical drafty church hall option where I was the youngest one there by at least 40-years. That said, I have since had the humbling experience of knowing people in their 80’s whose yoga practice is stronger than mine, a real testament to the power of yoga, however at that time I found the classes frustrating and not challenging enough. This lead me to focus on building my own practice at home and I worked this way for several years.
When I moved to Brighton I was overwhelmed by the choice of studios and teachers available so I spent some time trying out lots of different classes and exploring different styles of yoga. I had long since known that eventually I wanted to train as a teacher but still hadn’t decided where I wanted to train. By chance I was on a massage course and one of the teachers was talking about where he did his yoga teacher training. I made notes then took a few classes with him and really enjoyed them. I started googling and found The White Lotus Foundation in California. I immediately knew THAT was where I had to go! So I began a process of applying for yoga training with them over a 2-year period. Several trips to the US and several thousand pounds later, I was a qualified yoga teacher, registered with Yoga Alliance. I began my teaching slowly, starting with 1-1 tuition (still the best way to learn and grow as a teacher as everybody is so different) before going on to teach group classes. Since that time I have studied many different types of yoga in the UK and India and later this year, I will deepen my love of Yin Yoga with Sarah Powers, author of Insight Yoga as I undertake her teacher training in Thailand.
I often comment on how yoga changed my life and sometimes I think it actually saved it. People often comment on how calm and relaxed I am and colleagues I work with wonder how I have so much energy and stamina for my job, the answer is simple… “I do yoga!”
So in 13-years I have come full circle, from un-bendy and if I am honest, pretty unhealthy 30-year old to a calmer more centered yogi. May the next 13-years (and beyond) of yoga bring me even more benefits.
I am an Acupuncturist, Professional Massage Therapist and Therapeutic Yoga Teacher with more than 15-years Experience. Based in Brighton and Hove, appointments are available 5-days a week Tuesday-Saturday. For more information please visit my website.