Today, I had a timestamp come up on my Facebook.
Four years ago today was my first ever housewarming party for my little two bed flat. Looking back at the pictures, I noticed how chubby I was. Probably from an outsider, nobody would really know but some of these photos actually reflected a difficult time for me during that year. I was recovering from a traumatic event, moved into a new flat that was amazing but I was super alone inside.
That’s why I put on weight. I was feeding my body crap but trying to skip meals at the same time started drinking wine every weekend. Oh and I was occasionally smoking for a few months. Gosh.. seems weird to think this was actually me.
One day, I dusted off my old yoga mat and rolled it out in my new living room and decided to just stretch. That’s it. No expectations.
And then I remembered. The memory was so clear; like it was yesterday, my last yoga class that took place five years ago, the ‘zen high’ yoga used to give me. The time I dedicated to practice was a gift to stop and pause. The reminder that all that really matters is being in the moment. The endorphin happy high of nourishing your body with movement, flexibility, strength and cardio.
Within two years, of self practise, the extra weight I had been carrying began to melt away. I remember a lot of people were commenting how much weight I lost and asked what diet I went on. Some said I needed to eat more and get up a size again, that I didn’t look healthy but I never felt healthier in my life.
My colleague Sema would help answer for me when I would struggle to think of an answer, ‘It’s the yoga!’ she would respond. I know some people didn’t believe it. Some would respond with confusion and ask which type? Or respond with a question… ‘Isn’t it slow though?’ Back then, I tried so many different diets back then, I was waking up at 5am three times a week to go to the gym before my corporate job. I also attended boot camp and pole fitness classes. Although they all had their benefits to the physical body, I didn’t find that it offered long term sustainability in maintaining a healthy body weight for me.
Yes – Yoga isn’t the form of ‘exercise’ people think. But if you put it into perspective of mindset and breathing training, it’s pretty much the whole package of what everybody needs in terms of living a healthy life all round.
Did you know that the physical part of yoga, (basically what everyone thinks they’re signing up to) the asanas/postures is only one part of the yoga. For example, when somebody does a ‘tree pose’ they say, oh Look, I’m doing yoga, it tickles me because that is really far from the truth. Allow me to explain: there are actually Eight limbs of Yoga. (Yes eight). And how many limbs does an average hour long class usually practise out of the eight? I’d say 2-3 on average. (Which includes meditation and breathing).
Image taken from: Yogateket That’s why Yoga is defined as a practice. We start by practising a handful of the limbs during our first couple of years in a yoga class and then, this is where the magic happens: what happens through time and turning up to our classes regularly, is that we slowly begin to integrate the other limbs naturally i.e. compassion, veganism, communicating in non-violent ways. In other words we learn to take it ‘Off the mat’.
Yoga means to YOKE. Which basically means to unite. We unite our minds (intellectual life), our soul (our compassion), and our body, (our carrier, what keeps us safe from harm). It’s all of these three elements like a triangle that form and builds awareness about ourselves and thus leads us to so much greater things in life. If we’re too busy focused on the external part of ourselves, what we look like on the outside, without truly understanding what our body and mind needs, then we’re robbing the best gift for us.
I suppose, I am living proof of this stuff working. It worked for me and I see it work for others and that's why I'm so keen on spreading the message. Yoga is healing. I observe it in the people I teach, over time they begin to uncover their external layer and begin to feel more conscious and safe in their own body and skin. New healthy boundaries are set, and egos are lowered encouraging patience and kindness towards their practice and everyday life.
Today’s post was a tough one to write. Instead of banging out a post about the benefits of yoga which we can find anywhere, I’ve chosen to share a very authentic part of my personal story of why I love Yoga and why I became a teacher. I’m not going to lie. It’s not always an easy journey as with any journey but wherever, and whenever you find yourself a little lost, set up your reunion within yourself. Find your yoga.