It has literally changed my life: pre-yoga (as I like to call it!) I suffered from daily headaches, chronic tension, and felt like I was in constant competition with myself to always ‘do better’. With a regular yoga practice, I found myself softening – I became more aware of my breath which almost immediately reduced my tension and headaches; I am more patient and forgiving (with myself and others), and it’s even led to a change of my lifestyle as I am now vegetarian (which I never would have thought likely – she of the rare-steak-loving kind!).
I encountered yoga about 15 years ago through a fitness studio class; it was a fun hour that challenged me physically but it was all about the asana in a ‘fitness’ sense of the word. I had been curious about yoga, meditation and other alternative/complementary therapies before this so I knew that this wasn’t perhaps a true reflection of a yoga practice in its fullest form. Due to a lack of classes near me, I began to practice at home using videos/DVDs as guidance, and I attended new classes if they ever popped up – such as a Power Yoga class, and a few classes in village halls. However, as much as I enjoyed the guidance of a teacher, I felt like the sessions barely scratched the surface of this thing called ‘yoga’, so I continued to explore this practice at home for many years.
A few years ago, I saw an advert for the British Wheel of Yoga foundation diploma so I took the plunge and signed up to the year-long course in Manchester. It was with Emma Lloyd, a fantastic BWY teacher with decades of practice, and her experience, compassion and whole outlook was an inspiration to me. During that year, I learned so much about yoga, its traditions, the practices of pranayama and meditation, and most importantly it opened my eyes to who I could BE. It was almost inevitable, then, that a year later I signed up to an 18-month yoga teacher training course with Yoga Campus.
Beyond the physical benefits – allowing our bodies to unfurl, release and awaken – the practice of yoga is a doorway to lifelong self-discovery that is open to everybody. It offers space and time for us to turn our gaze inwards: to disengage from the habitual turnings of our mind; to breathe to our deepest, and live to our fullest.