my yoga story

Like most people I came to yoga for medical reasons looking for a form of low impact exercise to strengthen my legs. After years of knee pain as a teenager I was diagnosed in 2012 with Chondromalacia Patella and Patella Femoral Joint Dysfunction which had resulted in a portion of cartilage disintegrating on the back of one kneecap. Just what you want to hear at the age of 21! I had some pretty intense physiotherapy and was recommended to try yoga as a way to increase my fitness. I’d practiced on and off before but properly started to attend a weekly class, using the body weight training that yoga is to strengthen the muscles around my knee joint. As I increased my physical fitness, began to lose the extra weight I was carrying and began to strengthen my knees I began to see improvements in my day to day life. That was me hooked to yoga I just wanted to learn more and more.

I was an active child but never hugely sporty, mainly climbing trees and going for long walks with the dog. So my yoga journey really did start with a normal level of fitness and relatively little strength, particularly in my upper body! Like most people I started by dropping to my knees in every sun salutation as I didn’t have the arm strength, I remember that first full chaturanga I did as a real turning point. Nothing really changed in my practice but my general health was improving no end. Having been diagnosed in mid-2012 and at that point being able to walk no further than a couple of miles without stopping, pain and ultimately tears I was now going on regular 7 mile walks. I really do credit yoga with a large part of my improvement as it just teaches such good body awareness and safety.

I guess I continued with my basic yoga practice like this for a couple of years, slowly building my strength and confidence in my body. I really enjoyed learning new asanas, playing around with (falling out of) arm balances and increasing my fitness. In the meantime I’d graduated from University and was in the throws of my first proper job in the fashion world!

My yoga story – When times get tough

I’ve always been a more anxious person and often dealt with problems by bottling them up and dealing with them in my own way. Without realising it yoga has been an absolute saviour for my mental health as well as physical health, even without me realising it at the beginning. I had a rough year or so at work, the long hours, pressure and timings of fashion getting to me and my practice began to shift from being purely physical to me realising the mental benefits. Even though I made it onto my mat less often than before the overwhelming feeling of calm I had on there was incredible. If I’d had a particularly bad day at work or was stressed about something, stepping on my mat made me forget all of this. Working on my breath helped me stop periods of heightened anxiety and I loved this way of coping and control I could get over my mind as well. This was such a revelation. This period also began to make me question the balance we often have in our wester lives. Why was my work life completely overtaking and making me unhappy when it was only there to pay the bills. Luckily the situation changed before I had to but that year really put into motion my quest for a more balanced life.

Having the eureka moment of realising this physical practice I loved was also affecting me on a more subtle level made me want to discover more. I began to practice more outside of class, practicing sequences from magazines, videos and dvds. Paying more attention to the wellness sections of the Sunday supplements than the latest stiletto. I was happy increasing my practice, playing with arm balances, noticing the opening of my hips in pigeon and dipping into online articles about chakras for a while. Really enjoying learning about yoga and what my body could do. Then I discovered the Instagram yoga challenge world….I entirely blame Kino McGregor and Kerri Verna for what has happened to my Instagram feed and how much I annoy my friends with endless yoga photos, not to mention my boyfriend and family who have to take endless shots every evening! This ramped my yoga practice up to doing something every single day and I loved it. The feeling of release every evening was brilliant and I loved having a little photo diary of my progress.

Then something happened which can only be fate or serendipity. There I was in a field opposite the Milton Keynes Bowl, in my Kia Picanto, parking to see the Foo Fighters. There’s a knock on the window, I turn around and there’s a Hare Krishna. He hands me for free a copy of The Perfection of Yoga by AC Bhakitivedanta Swami Pabhupada. If I’m honest it went on the dashboard straight away and I ran off to mosh to Dave and the guys, forgetting this chance encounter. Two months later I was unexpectedly made redundant from a job which I loved, with a team that I loved. Suddenly I had a lot more time for yoga and myself. Being left with your own thoughts suddenly after a shock like that can be quite scary and brought the mental aspect of my yoga practice back to the forefront, helping me cope in quite an upsetting time and I began how amazing would it be if I could help other people discover their practice? I picked up that little book, the memorabilia from Milton Keynes Bowl, again and began to read, fascinated for the first time by the true philosophy behind yoga.

Unfortunately the real world continued to turn and I needed to quickly find a new job. The seed sewn of wanting to help other people discover yoga didn’t leave though. I began to mull this idea over in my head while I started my new job, still really focusing on my personal practice. Working out what I liked so I could focus on that style for my training and using lunch hours to research different teachers and styles, daydreaming of months in Bali and India. The months in Bali or India weren’t very practical though, particularly for someone in a brand new job. I was determined this time though that it wasn’t a pipe dream. I needed to immerse myself at least for a little while in this world and learn something entirely new. I love working in a creative world but I wanted to sit down with a book again and learn, including for some reason revisiting my GCSE biology! So after much research I visited the Om Yoga Show in October 2016, met Sally Parkes and signed up the next day. I was committing to six months, 200 hours and a lot of reading and I was so excited!

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