Loving life on the mat

Since I went on my yoga retreat back in April, life has taken me in a number of positive directions. It seems that the time out from everyday life was a catalyst for positive change. That this time out- almost meditative in the sense that I didn’t need to think about anything – seems to have been what I needed in order to re-discover myself and re-set my own path where my focus had for so long been solely on my children.

The most exciting change that it brought about was to rekindle my love affair with yoga. I discovered yoga in my teens through a book that my parents had from a BBC TV series and I have dipped in and out of yoga practice on and off for the last two decades. I practised yoga throughout my first pregnancy and loved that quiet time just me, my body and my baby. I have fond memories of attempting a shoulder stand at 7 months pregnant and realising that that was probably the cut off point for inversions when I thought I was going to be crushed by my baby bump! ;-)

Since our summer holiday when I had an opportunity for daily yoga practice I realised that I needed it back in my life properly. I sit at my desk most days and I have always felt when my body was telling me to do yoga – whether it was my lower back giving me pain, my legs feeling tight or my neck aching, my body would always let me know when I was overdue a yoga session. Possibly a way for my body to retaliate at making it sit in uncomfortable positions for too long. However, quite by chance I discovered that a British Wheel of Yoga Foundation course was being held at a venue close to where I live and it felt as though the universe was pointing me in this direction, particularly as I hadn’t been directly seeking this course at that moment. Needless to say, I started it two months ago and it was definitely the right decision for me. It has opened me back up to the world of yoga, I am learning about the philosophy and origins of yoga, starting to explore pranayama and meditation in more depth and best of all having an opportunity to learn about and practise the various asanas (postures). To complement the course I have also been going to regular yoga classes, alongside my home practice and this has been the best part of all. Meeting some amazing, inspiring teachers, receiving guidance with my practice, trying out new asanas and learning new things every day. And what is wonderful about yoga, compared to the other forms of exercise that I do, is that it isn’t about losing weight or a preoccupation with shape, your focus is on your body and what it can do and the benefits that your practice can bring you- whether that be strength, flexibility or relaxation. In a yoga class you have the chance to listen to and learn from your body and to go at your own pace, with the benefit of a body that starts to develop muscle tone and strength without this necessarily being the primary focus. You go at your own pace and if you listen to your body it will take you where you want to go when it is ready.

It feels exciting to be on this path, to be learning new things, to be indulging in something I love and to be showing respect for my body. What is great about yoga is that it is open to everyone – young and old – simply because you can go at your own pace and there are no expectations other than what you put on yourself. I am hoping that this journey will ultimately lead me into teaching but this will be a few years down the line as the teaching element of the course will take a few years to complete BUT there’s no rush and I’m so excited at the prospect of sharing this with my children, of improving my practice, of taking this with me into old age and of sharing yoga with other people and hopefully passing on some of my enthusiasm.

Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

12 thoughts on “Loving life on the mat

    1. Thank you! I can never tell if I’m rambling too much ;-) so I’m glad you liked it and could identify with what I wrote. It’s great that we share the same feelings especially as not a lot of people in my immediate vicinity share the same interests so it’s great to have an outlet to compare notes. I very much look forward to hearing about your adventures when you start the teaching course!! xx

  1. Emma — your renewed dedication to yoga is inspiring (and once again a parallel life experience as I am doing the same with meditation — thanks for your comment on my blog post this week!). Both activities are aligned with Tolle’s teachings, as both get us to the same place of presence and conscious awareness. I am hindered in incorporating yoga more fully into my life by a couple of things – two active kids and an already heavy schedule of exercise classes of my own, so it’s hard to fit one more structured activity in there during this chapter of my life. The other difficulty is that I actually have gotten motion sick from doing yoga in the past! Pretty embarrassing, actually. Nothing makes you feel more like a loser than throwing up after a yoga class. So as you pursue your training, ask about that from time to time. Once you are an official instructor, I will fly from Virginia to attend your class, as long as you make special compensation for the motion sick student. xx Martha

    1. That’s so strange about feeling motion sick – were you doing ashtanga? the more flowing type of yoga? I get motion sickness badly in a car or spinning about but not so far in yoga. I guess we are all unique and ultimately find what suits us so maybe that’s just your body telling you to steer clear of yoga for now. I loved your comment about coming over to my class – seems so far off – if/when I get there you will know about it :-D On another note I have felt very challenged today and yesterday and really feel I might try and meditate later – you know sometimes it feels that you are flowing against the universe. I’ve had a couple of incidents yday and today where I have felt so stressed and tried so hard to remain calm. Lots of calm deep breaths to not let myself get sucked into the negativity that stress creates. I really look forward to reading about your experiences with meditation. I really feel like I need that in my life. Thanks so much for your comment and support, it is so comforting to know I have a kindred spirit out there xx

      1. Try this, straight from the Dalai Lama, whom I saw speak a couple of weeks ago (I blogged about that last week, I think). When you are the middle of a really stressful situation, cover one nostril with one finger and breath in, then move your finger to the other nostril and breath out. Then repeat several times, having all of your breath concentrated in only one nostril at a time. That will immediately bring you out of your mind, and take the edge off of the situation. (He was giving this suggestion to an emergency room nurse, who was talking about how they are trying to incorporate mindfulness practices into their interaction with patients. One innovative thing they do at the University of Virginia’s hospital is to have everyone stop for 45 seconds when a patient dies in the ER, rather than just get mad that they “failed” and move on quickly to the next patient. Pretty cool.) Have you tried getting up a little earlier in the morning to meditate? I have found after a month of doing this that is helps me deal with everything more easily the rest of the day. And be gentle with yourself — everything, including the chaos and difficulty, happens for a reason. The faster we figure out the lesson, the more quickly order is restored!

  2. Thanks Martha. How wonderful to meet the Dalai Lama! I’ll check out that post. This is called alternate nostril breathing- I do this sometimes at the end of yoga practice but never thought to incorporate this in a stressful situation. Anythings worth a try! I go for the breathe in calmly deeply and slowly and out through my mouth audibly approach- I guess it works on the same principle of focussing on the breath (and thus away from the source of stress) although I hadnt thought of it like that actually. I struggle to get out of bed most mornings so mornings wdnt work for me. Before bedtime might be better, also help to clear my mind for a restful nights sleep (I dont sleep too deeply so this cd have a dual benefit!). The kids have a week off school next week so I might try some meditation with them too xx

  3. Hi, I’ve only just discovered your blog and I came across this post. I too really feel I gain not only physically but mentally from yoga but I have just been diagnosed as having hypermobility and told that yoga really isn’t going to be great for me…. I’m gutted. Will have to do abit more research and see if this is really the case because I will miss it in my life. Thanks for sharing, I’ll be following on twitter.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Did the docs explain WHY it wouldn’t be good for you? It might be worth your while speaking to a qualified yoga teacher to get their opinion- they are usually very well trained in anatomy/physiology so should know about things like this. I wd have thought being hypermobile wd be a good thing in terms of flexibility (?) then again I’m no doctor! Even if it were the case then you could always restrict your practice to gentler postures that wouldn’t put too much strain on your joints or wherever it is that you are hypermobile. The info on hypermobility on wikipedia seemed to be quite interesting and there were a couple of references to yoga. I wd say don’t give up yet- do your research like you said. I did read an article recently answering the statements that people have made about yoga leading to injury. The basis was that you cant injure yourself in positions that the body does naturally e.g. forward bends, but that one should exercise caution in backbends that are not so natural. It might be a case of following this type of advice. Good luck xx

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jess :-) You’re right! I’ve always loved yoga but never made as much time for it or prioritised it as I do now. I think until now I have been consumed with being a (busy working) mum and since my yoga retreat I have realised I can do things just for me too. It really has taken my life in a new direction…

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