It seems that every yoga teacher has a story about "how yoga changed my life". Corny? Well yes maybe, but there is a reason for us all feeling like that; yoga is transformative - it changes how you see things, how you feel, that is what it does.
Life is tough. This statement applies tor everyone in different ways and at different times. When it is you feeling this, it might seem you are having the toughest time of all. I am generally a very positive, optimistic person, but I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. I've been there. My journey to where I am now has had a fare few bumps along the way. Here is the story of how yoga has helped me.
When I first started work I was a product of the 80's - work hard, play hard, you are what you earn, lunch is for wimps... the lot! I was in the corporate world with my high heels and shoulder pads and I thought the world was my oyster, but I wasn't very happy and was always tired. I gave it all up to go to drama school and "found myself" again. I didn't really earn very much for a few years, but I was happy and felt that I was contributing to society in a bigger way than when I had been flying round Europe in my marketing role. I started temping, which that led to a permanent job again. I dropped the acting to pay the bills.
When I first found yoga, over 20 years ago, I was in an unhappy relationship. I knew it wasn’t working for either of us but I couldn’t imagine what it would mean to not be in this relationship. I wanted to be happy but I was scared of the unknown. Practicing Yoga helped calm my racing mind. The poses made me feel strong and empowered. I learned to respect myself and understand that I was in control of my own destiny and that, if I was going to be happier, I was the one who had to do something about it. I finished the relationship.
Life was tough for a while, but then things got better. A lot better! Yoga has been in my life ever since.
The next big challenge came after I had my son. My employer was making cutbacks and I eagerly accepted voluntary redundancy – perfect timing, I thought, all that time off with my new baby and some extra cash. Suddenly, I had no job, no colleagues and no identity. Yoga helped me through a period of post-natal depression.
Back in the workplace I later had a bad experience with a bullying boss and found myself off work for several months feeling rejected and useless and very sorry for myself. Once again, I turned to yoga and, wanting to learn more, it was around this time that I embarked on a Yoga Teacher Training Course. I can honestly say that this 18-month journey changed my life. I changed from victim to survivor – no, to thriver!
I signed up for some self-help groups at Solent Mind (the mental health charity). Growing stronger and more confident, I started running my own group for them. Sharing yoga with other clients at Solent Mind and seeing them flourish further boosted my confidence. I started a new job and a second yoga class, then a third. After a year I decided to give up my admin job and concentrate on teaching yoga. Before COVID-19 came along I was teaching 10 in person yoga classes a week.
I have always had a busy mind. I used to overthink things and worry about everything (even if I had no control over it). Yoga has helped me overcome anxiety and depression and, whilst those two unwelcome guests still come to visit sometimes, they never stay for long anymore. I still have issues with my mental health, but Yoga helps me keep this in check.
I have yoga to thank for guiding me back to a happier, healthier way of living and I am not alone. All over the world, people are learning that, although life may be a struggle, they can learn to be more content and rediscover their inner bliss through yoga.