Welcome to www.alltheyogastuff.com blog! It seems apt to share how I started to practise yoga all these years ago and explain why I have such a passion for it…
My yoga practice started with desperation — never a great state. I was suffering from acute anxiety and feared I was losing the plot. At 17, my teenage years hadn’t been easy, my mother dying of lung cancer when I was 13, barely two months after her diagnosis. I was the only child and my father was considerably older — 53 when I was born and 66 when he was left to run a business and struggle to raise a damaged teenager who had no maternal figure to turn to.
The anxiety attacks started when I was 14 — full blown panics that could come on at any time over things I knew in my rational mind were nothing to be concerned about. It went on for years — in 1970s Britain we didn’t discuss mental health and admitting how I felt, even to friends, would make people think I was loopy. My father told me to pull myself together; the doctor muttered threats of psychiatric help but never as much as offered a self-help strategy. Their reactions terrified me more.
I could go for a few months feeling calmer, then the whole thing would raise its ugly head again, and I would despair that I was never going to get better. I picked up a basic paperback in the book store about yoga and found it really interesting, starting to incorporate a brief series of asanas into my morning routine. I found it strangely soothing — how could something so simple calm me when dealing with something so complex? My rational mind couldn’t talk myself out of my anxiety but taking time to do this basic practice made me feel less desperate and more able to cope.
I became quite an expert after that, taking books out of the library and developing into the meditative practice that follows the poses also. There were a few ropey moments when my poor wee dad really feared I’d lost it when he listened concernedly at the bedroom door as I burned incense and chanted OM… ‘It’s like a bleedin’ opium in den in that room,’ he’d mutter as he paced the lobby outside. ‘I hope you’re not smoking any of that waacy baccy stuff!’
So forward play 37 years and I’m a yoga teacher! One of the things that I love most about it is helping people — from the lady with a bad back who could paint her nails for the first time in 10 years to the student who’s suffering severe stress in the run-up to her finals. Sharing my knowledge with students gives me a huge kick!
I thank anxiety for bringing me yoga. If I hadn’t been such a wreck I would never have tried it. Yoga didn’t cure my anxiety — a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy organised by a more enlightened doctor took me a long way towards understanding how my bereavement had left me in such a fragile state as a vulnerable teenager. Yoga did, however, give me the tools to find calm at such a scary time in my life and I know that I can share that power with all my lovely students. That’s my passion!