My yoga story begins with a hurt back, goes through a spiritual awakening (breakdown/burnout), an introduction to yoga, getting more from yoga, and ends with continuing with yoga. Ready?
Hurt my back last August and saw a chiropractor. She advised me to take up yoga to keep my back, hips and shoulders flexible, reduce the migraines and clear the stress.
A yoga teacher friend advised me to read the “Don’ts & Do’s” before starting yoga, the Yamas & Niyamas. I read them then began practising them.
I lost my care job in mid-September and took a few days off.
Didn’t want to be idle so I published my 4th colouring book the beginning of the following week. Had a spiritual awakening (breakdown/burnout) at the end of the week.
It felt like I’d been hit with a demolition ball and crumbled physically, mentally and emotionally.
Spiritual Awakening (Breakdown/Burnout).
Stopped crumbling a couple of days later. Physically deeply tired, mentally couldn’t string a sentence together, emotionally raw. This was scary as my job had been working with people with dementia who couldn’t string sentences together.
Spent the next few days sleeping, meditating, sitting quietly without the TV on, learning to be kind to myself (compassion) and living in the moment (mindfulness).
All the bad stuff had gone – the manipulation, need to control, neediness, clinginess, arrogance, sarcasm, vagueness – but had taken my self-confidence and trust with them.
Thankfully, my housemate was in the USA for 3 weeks holiday, so didn’t have to see me trying to “hold it together.” She doesn’t handle emotion or change very well.
Coming from a therapy background, I chose to experience the suffering while healing to make sure everything was dealt with. Used the Yamas & Niyamas as a framework to guide me through rediscovering myself and starting over.
Arranged to go to a beginners yoga class the following Thursday, after advising the teacher about my size and that I’d need to use a chair. It gave me something else to focus on.
Introduction to Yoga.
Going to a class was the first of my Ahimsa (the first Yama) courage challenges.
It would challenge me on several levels – being with people, exercising, exercising in a group, doing something different, going out of my comfort zone, doing yoga sitting on a chair, and having to trust the teacher.
I enjoyed it immensely! The teacher, Gill Littleford, was kind and encouraging. She pulled up two chairs so she could sit beside me and show me how to do the chair adaptions for the poses the rest of the class were doing on their mats.
I did Mountain pose (pictured at the top), a seated twist pose, and one of the Warrior poses. I was fine with standing poses but can’t get down and up off the floor, hence the chair.
I did more than I expected to because I didn’t know yoga poses could have variations. Gill made sure I did plenty of stretches and twists!
Met up with a friend a couple of days later and she noticed I was moving better. I started noticing changes after my second class, and continued seeing small improvements.
My confidence and energy improved a little each time. After a few weeks, I had enough confidence to practice at home without hurting myself.
I read about the eight limbs of yoga and wanted to know more about the meditation side and the philosophy. I knew my yoga teacher friend knew about this but I wasn’t confident enough to go to her mixed abilities group.
I was working through repressed feelings and had to wait until I was stronger emotionally.
Each time I went to the Thursday morning class, I got more in tune with my body, and added a little more confidence, balance and endurance.
Getting More From Yoga.
My next Ahimsa courage challenge was to go to the class my friend, Jenny, taught.
It took three attempts to be brave enough to actually go in. I drove there twice then wimped out and drove back home. Ahem!
On the third attempt, I gave myself a motivational talk before I went in. I got on fine and felt comfortable.
After class, I felt like each area – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – had received some attention.
This was holistic Hatha yoga and it was exactly what I was looking for. And the class was taught by someone I already knew, liked and trusted. Bonus!
Continuing With Yoga.
I practice at home 2-3 times each week and go to Jenny’s yoga class most weeks. Why? The main reason is to keep building my confidence. When I first went, I was still fragile and too nervous to speak.
I wanted to share some of this journey but didn’t feel able to.
The other reasons are to keep my body flexible so movement continues to improve, to put all my practices into one session and challenge myself to make it as flowing as possible, to continue to learn about yoga, and to be with a group of people each week. That, for me, is the hardest part.
What’s your yoga story?
Tell us in the Comments.