I don’t know if I could identify the point at which my life became not mine. My best guess is that it was a gradual process, taking place over a few years. What I do know is that I grew up competitive, ambitious and driven. i was rewarded for being the best I could be and thus dedicated myself to the pursuit of success and a ‘successful’ life. You know the type – great job, lovely house, nice car, etc. (well, less of the latter – I never cared much about cars!).
I aced school and college. Secured my first real job before completing final exams. And then, while working this job, I completed an MBA. From there it was promotion after promotion as I worked my way up to a European Head of Marketing role at a global automotive manufacturer. I subsequently moved on to head up the marketing department at a young and vibrant tech company. I was ticking all the boxes on the career success list.
I met a great guy and got married. Went on a fabulous North American honeymoon (Yosemite!). Bought a house. More boxes ticked.
Brilliant life, right?
Fast forward to the still tender (in my eyes) age of 33 and the whole thing came tumbling down around me. I didn’t see it coming for a second but I met someone else. A wonderful someone else (who I’m still with, two years down the line) but, without question, I hurt a lot of people. With life comes experience and I think most of us would do things differently if we had a second chance. That part of the story is for another time.
Here’s the truth I understand now. My relationship breakdown (and divorce), loss of house, and loss of family and friends, was a beginning rather than an end. Which is where yoga has come to the fore.
I learnt a lot during this time, aided by friends, family and various holistic therapists (including Katherine Pearce, an insightful acupuncturist). Yet, it was on my mat that I truly found ME.
I’d practised yoga before – for years in fact, during my mid-twenties but something during this time brought me back to my mat. I started a daily practice. At first, it was focused around a Yoga With Adriene 30-day programme (#30daysofyoga). This quickly extended and soon I found myself at day 40, 50, 60…
On the mat, I found a grounded, centred-ness that was invaluable in dealing with the whirling storm that surrounded me. It was also crucial to identifying who ‘me’ was, now that it wasn’t who I’d thought it was! I’ll be frank. I was spending much of my day in pieces but on the mat I could carve out something that felt peaceful and constructive.
Thinking about it, my mat was actually also my sofa for a good six months too – maybe that had something to do with it!
From my work with Katherine, I came to understand that there was a different me inside, frantic to break out. I could feel that teaching yoga was yes, a solution to that, but also a calling that was getting stronger day by day.
So, I put the pieces together. I went back to public class so I could get recommended to a teaching programme. This happened far quicker than expected (the stars must have been in alignment). I went off to a retreat to meet the teacher trainer, Laura Gilmore. Then I moved on to her YTT200 programme (that I started this February).
Yoga for me has always been more than a physical practice, though in earlier years I might not have been able to articulate it quite like I can now. The idea of giving yourself permission to underachieve (I heard that once and it’s stuck with me ever since). Of coming to the mat in that moment – forgetting yesterday, last week or even 5 minutes ago. Of kindness towards oneself. Of self-reflective awareness. Of always being good enough.
I devoured my course reading list and more including Light on Yoga, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, The Heart of Yoga, and Wanderlust. I discovered a meaning in life that (though it might have felt elusive for a while) is largely aligned with the worldview of my younger, 17-year-old, self. Strange, no, how we can lose ourselves in the flow of life?
There is immense value in what yoga has to say. To understand that you need just imagine a world where everyone directed effort to living in accordance with the yamas and niyamas. These principles, particularly ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth), guide me every day now,. Not only in dealings with others but with myself too. It’s all infinitely empowering and leads to a better, more fulfilling, more giving life.
I want, no – scratch that, I need to teach this to others. From the roots of my being, I driven to make the world a better place. Teaching the practice of yoga and encouraging (among other things) tolerance, kindness, self-reflection and calm is my contribution to this.
I’m early in the course yet but already I know I’ve made the right decision. Last week I taught for the first time, and it was incredible (with room for improvement, of course!). As I write this, I’m preparing for the second set of classes. I’m coming to know that my teaching of yoga will always be both physical and philosophical – for me this is the only way. After all, it’s what got me this far in the first place.
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