health

About Fi Series – “I’m a Yoga Teacher”

“I am a yoga teacher (ashtanga, pre and post natal, baby and children’s)”

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I’ve ‘done’ yoga since I was a teenager.

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But back then I wasn’t so interested in how it affected my mind (let alone my spirit). Instead I was focused on how it affected my body.

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I would watch the teacher bend and twist and want to be able to do what they could do. I would spend the whole class in deep comparison to their ability and deep judgment of, what I deemed, to be my failing.

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I attended classes during my degree, my PhD and my working career. All in a bid to find stillness but always resulting in a sense of lacking.

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I would look at the other women in the class. Their designer yoga clothes; their ‘perfectly’ toned bodies; the way they could bend and shift shapes…and instead of surrendering to the way yoga made me feel…the way it could calm my mind…I would feel inadequate.

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I always knew there was more to it than that. I could sense that yoga could offer me something nothing else could and yet, along with long distance running and weight training, I used yoga as another way of punishing myself, of proving to myself that I wasn’t enough.

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Then, in 2016, following major ‘cancer debunking’ surgery, during which I had multiple organs removed, my mental (and physical) health took a massive dip and I realised it was time to face my demons concerning my body.

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I decided then was the right time to train to be a yoga teacher. Crazy I know!…but maybe not…

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I wanted to learn everything I could about the human body and its innate capability for healing and it’s physical potential.

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Of course, training to become a yoga teacher following major, crippling surgery is no easy task and only one training school I approached was willing to accept me as a student.

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12 weeks after my operation I walked into a yoga teacher training course with one of my sisters ready, as I could be, to learn how to teach yoga.

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Nothing could have prepared me for what happened.

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Firstly the class was filled with beautiful dancers, experienced yogis and athletes. I had to release all of my notions for comparison, finding myself hardly able to walk, let alone bend and twist.

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I became gentle on myself, offering self compassion, love, patience and understanding where I had once only found self loathing and judgment.

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When I couldn’t do the postures, I focused my learning on the meditations, the breathwork and the yoga philosophies.

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While I gave my body the space and time to heal physically, I fed my mind and spirit with all the aspects of yoga I hadn’t given myself permission to engage with before.

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Through this I discovered that yoga isn’t about how my version of the pose looks – it’s about how it makes me feel.

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During that year of training I made a commitment to myself that in my own practice and in my yoga classes there would be no room for comparison, for self doubt or for judgment. There would be no pressure to look a certain way; to dress a certain way or, indeed, to behave a certain way.

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There would only be space for self love; patience and acceptance of what our bodies are capable of right now.

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Since then I’ve done further yoga training. I’ve trained as a pre and post natal and baby yoga teacher; I’ve also trained as a children’s yoga teacher and I’ve done courses specifically studying breathwork, meditation, yoga nidra and yoga philosophy.

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Through it all I’ve learnt one fundamental fact…yoga doesn’t care if you wear designer clothes, it doesn’t care what size you are, how you look, if you can touch your toes or bind your hands, it doesn’t even care if you have a yoga mat.

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Because yoga doesn’t happen on your mat. Yoga isn’t found in the poses. Yoga is found in how you live your life in the moments when you aren’t on your mat.

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Yoga is found in the kindness you share, in the connections you make and the joy you feel living in the present moment.

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It took me over 30 years to discover what true yoga is and now I have, it’s the the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.

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It’s why I never post pictures of myself on social media in complicated yoga poses. Not because I can’t do them, but because I refuse to perpetuate the westernised notion that yoga is appearance based.

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If you are punishing yourself with any type of exercise dear one please stop and know that you are perfect, just where you are.

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There is nothing I love more than teaching a yoga class or running a yoga retreat and seeing the realisation and self acceptance in the face of one of my clients when they release attachment to their poses looking a certain way or their body behaving a certain way. This is true yoga and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

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