I was asked this question this week on Facebook by my yoga teacher, but it’s such a big question! I couldn’t fit it in a Facebook post and realised there is a longer story here.
I first started practicing regularly after I had a serious car crash, I had broken my sternum and had to have an operation to reattach the bones, I had also hurt my left foot and right knee. All this meant I couldn’t stand up straight let alone back bend, couldn’t stand on one leg and couldn’t put any pressure on my arms, so even down dog was out!
But it wasn’t just the physical scars, another person was hurt in the crash, it was my car that had skidded on the wet road, my fault.
I started going to hot yoga classes, it was a cold winter and I hurt everywhere, the heat helped me start to relax and although I couldn’t really hold any postures for very long, I slowly started to regain more movement and strength, more confidence and bravery.
I had never been one for meditation, having a naturally busy mind and a tendency towards stress and insomnia, I found the end of class, the long relaxation, really challenging. My mind kept grasping onto things, work I had to do, things I had done that I could have done differently, the accident. I found that in those early days, tears flowed regularly, there was something about certain poses that seemed to allow me to let go of all I was keeping inside, Pidgeon pose, Bow pose, Savasana.
Slowly I healed, learned to forgive myself, learned to find a still place in my mind, started to feel better than I ever had before, the lower back pain I have always suffered from was gone, my knees felt stronger, the tension in my neck and shoulders eased. I slept better, I was calmer.
Yoga is not a quick fix, change takes time and stuff happens. Illness, relationship breakups, loss, life. But, over the years, yoga has given me the tools to live my life better and more fully, I have met some enlightened souls who have taught me that change is possible, I can be less stressed, happier, stronger, more forgiving, more open. I learn something new every time I step onto the mat. Teaching allows me the chance to share some of the wonderful insights with others, to maybe help them heal, relax, renew and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my love of this ancient practice with others.
I was assisting a class last week when I approached a lady who was standing in tadasana (Mountain pose) with lots of tension in her shoulders, her chest sunken and shoulders rounded forwards, I touched the centre of my chest and took a breath, lifting it up and rolling back my shoulders and she copied me, instantly transforming her posture, bringing new energy and confidence into her pose. I was later told that she had recently lost her husband and that was her first yoga class since then. I was reminded again of the link between the mind and the body, we are not one without the other. Her grief had closed her down and maybe yoga can help remind her that it might be possible, eventually, to open once again.
I have realised that the journey of life is better with yoga and that’s why I why I keep going back.
Why did you start yoga and what keeps you going back? I’d love to know!