“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
Who are you and what do you stand for? Why yoga and meditation?
Here’s a little snippet of my journey and some reflection space for you….
There are many reasons people come to start a yoga and meditation practice. Weight loss/gain, fitness and flexibility are covered in the physical practise (asanas).
All of these were why I first started back in 2001 when I brought Geri Halliwell’s yoga DVD. She had gone from a curvy Spice Girl to a tiny yogi, I was very attached to my body image at that point and secretly enjoyed the spice girls (secretly because I was a rock n roll chick).
My eldest son had just been born and to be honest, I treated my first pregnancy as an excuse to sit around and eat so I had become pretty overweight, I was also very depressed. Going from a Kitchen manager/party animal on my feet for 14 hours a day at work and clubbing every night to moving home from London, no friends, no drink/drugs, no job, to a Mum I hadn’t really spoken to for years was a big shock.
Geri seemed to hold all the answers to my problems and it for a while she was my mentor. She helped me know what I wanted, what I really really wanted. SORRY it had to be done!
Every day when my baby slept I would roll my mat out, stick Geri on and do yoga. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, fell over a lot and got very frustrated that I couldn’t do half of what this bendy ginger goddess could, but I stuck to it anyway and eventually, I began to pick things up. I did yoga, lost weight and felt amazing.
That was until I stopped breastfeeding, realised I was in a loveless relationship and I was suffering from postnatal depression. I stopped yoga, started drinking and eating crappy food again.
The weight came back.
Eventually, we split up, we packed our bags and moved to a little flat ready to start again. Yoga and I had an on and off relationship for the following few years. When I did it I felt amazing but I was in a dark place which I chose to numb with antidepressants.
My body was a mess, my emotions were a mess and my head was a shed. Desperately alone, a single Mum I picked the first fella that came alone to fill the hole where my self-esteem should have been and it all got a whole lot worse. The abusive relationship took me deeper into depression, self-harm, eating disorders.
Thankfully I found the strength to end the marriage but I had 2 sons and my ex’s son to look after and bring up. I was a cleaner, had no money and was totally at rock bottom. I vowed to sort myself out for them. I wanted to be the best Mum.
Hello, yoga and meditation!!
This time it wasn’t about having a tiny yogi body (well a bit) it was about being healthy in my body and mind as well as connecting to my spirit/soul/divinity.
With time I healed, I had found my path. Yoga and meditation brought me a sense of purpose and peace. Neither practices stuck immediately. It took a few years to make them a habit.
Within those 2 lines above was a lot of recoveries, falling down, heartache, lessons and pain, but that’s a book worth of writing.
I began to train in holistic therapies, followed by meditation, mindfulness and then yoga and I’m now lucky enough to make a full time living from the darkest part of my life.
Everything I teach is everything I stand for.
I have come from self-induced harm, drama, abuse (I didn’t know any better at the time) to a relatively stable human being with a great job, fabulous husband of 13 years, 3 great teenage boys under one roof and another stepson and 3 dogs.
I have gone from lost and confused to clear and present. It ain’t been an easy journey but it’s been worth it.
Yoga and meditation can be what you want it to be. Use it to get fit if you like, I did for a long time and it really helped. But I realised with every practice it brought spiritual, mental and emotional support.
Like me, if done consistently, it will offer you the chance to wade through life when it feels like you’re neck-deep in muddy water and feel ok about things, it will help you overcome challenges, it brings like-minded people together. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Am I an awakened yogi? Nope, not even close and I don’t want to be. I like being human too, I don’t want to transcend every thought and feeling. I want to die knowing that I have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows and everything in-between. I am certainly awakening, I’m less caught up in the difficult thoughts/emotions, I am no longer trapped in what others think and trying to be something I’m not.
I can say with my hand on my heat that I love and respect myself.
It’s supported me through the death of my Grandad and Mum (in the same month).
It’s helped me slow down and learn to say no.
I don’t have the skinny yogi body I wanted but to be honest I don’t care. I’ve been a lot smaller and a lot bigger. This middle ground feels good to me.
It is, and always will be about balance.
A daily practice of balancing life, mind, body and spirit. That’s the way I like it.
So why am I sharing this with you? I’m sharing this because it took me getting a masters degree from the school of hard knocks to get to know who I am and what I stand for. I write because I want to offer you the space to do the same, so you can reflect on who you are. We can be so stuck in our heads sometimes we forget ourselves.
This could be another how-to type blog but in reflection, they create little flames of motivation that often don’t cause the burning fire needed to start a practice so I have decided to leave you with a few questions to reflect on. Grab your journal and answer the following:
OFF THE MAT
Where have you come from?
What has brought you to this point in your life?
What challenges have you overcome?
What positive things/people/cultural influences have helped define you?
Once you have answered these questions take a moment to look at your life and honestly evaluate whether you are showing for yourself as yourself and if not here’s the next question:
What do you need to change today to help you connect to yourself?
ON THE MAT
Why are you thinking about/doing yoga and meditation?
Where are you going with your practice?
What would you like to gain?
Are you willing to commit fully, even when you can’t be bothered, can’t do everything in practice and the mind is telling you not to bother?
So there we have it, yoga is more than weight loss, it’s a tool to get to know who we are. I’m not a wishy-washy, airy-fairy yoga teacher. I’m an ex-publican/party animal just wanting to feel good, yoga and meditation work for me so I have dedicated my life to sharing it with others who want to feel good too.
I’d love to hear more from you. How did you find the reflection exercise? Did you have any lightbulb moments? Please share in the comments below.
Namaste for now my friends,