Who am I? How did I get here?
No this isn’t an existential examination of my life
This is the story about how my life got flipped-turned upside down……just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air…no wait….I mean how I became a yogi and the yoga teacher I am today….
I have been teaching yoga for just over 4 years, I have been doing yoga for about 6 years. But my journey, as with most starts way back.
When I was in my early teens I wasn’t especially keen on exercise. I flirted with playing on the hockey team, played some tennis (badly) and orienteered (half-heartedly). I didn’t have a huge passion for exercise, unless it was horse riding which I did twice a week. But I did have a huge passion for food, to be honest I still do. By the time I was studying for my GSCEs the only movement I did was school sports lessons, family walks and my biweekly horse riding, but I ate like my active brothers, which meant I was overweight. When I was on study leave for my GCSEs I started going to the gym multiple times a week to try to loose weight and get fit, and I fell in love with it. I loved moving my body and getting stronger and being healthy, and these are the very same reasons I fell in love with yoga a little later down the line.
In my Sixth Form traditional ‘P.E.’ or ‘Games’ were switched to enrichment afternoons where we could pick activities or sports that we wanted to do. My art teacher ran a yoga session and I’d heard yoga was good for people who went to the gym so I signed up. I walked into the first session not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t flexible. I couldn’t touch my toes. I had some hip mobility from horse riding, but I didn’t know that at the time! We did a short class and then played around with some simple partner yoga. I was hooked to this concept of ‘stretching’. I went home and decided to buy a mat and sign myself and my mum up to a yoga class at the gym.
I’d done 45 minutes of yoga and I loved it! I was determined to keep doing it.
Fast forward to my first year at Uni in Cornwall. I had saved up and spent my money on a membership at lovely beachside hotel gym and they ran yoga and fitness classes. I didn’t really know what the different styles of yoga were but my personal trainer ran a class so I went to hers to start with. I’d done ‘yoga’ in my gym at home and at school but was a little unsure of what to expect from this vinyasa yoga class. I walked in and most of the class were elderly so I thought it would be a breeze…… Oh boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong…….By the end of the class I was exhausted, sweaty and humbled….but even more in love
During my one-year degree in Cornwall I spent more time doing yoga than I did doing my Art Foundation degree. The degree and uni experience didn’t live up to my expectations so I kept myself sane with a yoga class and a gym workout most days and some days two classes, just because I could. It was during this year that I discovered the mental side of yoga. I truly believe that I would have come out of that year a lot worse off if I hadn’t had yoga.
I ended up taking a year out before moving to a different Bachelors degree, so I decided that since this was the only time for the next few years I could commit the time to it, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training course.
6 months after graduating my first uni degree I was flying out to Morocco to learn to teach yoga, and I couldn’t have been more excited and more nervous. I knew I was going to be the youngest person there and this worried me, but I met another attendee in the airport and my nerves calmed. A yoga teacher training course is not something for the faint hearted. It is physically demanding, mentally demanding and all-round exhausting. But when I taught my first 5-minute practise in front of everyone I realised this was where I was meant to be. In that moment I felt complete certainty and passion, this was what I was born to do.
Another 6 months later I was moving to Leeds to do a BSc in Geography but also, I was going to be teaching yoga at the university gym. I’d been teaching cover classes for months back home over the summer but I’d never had my own slot, so this was so exciting! During my first year in Leeds I realised that uni still wasn’t what I’d imagined but teaching yoga was. I had 7 of my own classes per week fitted around my lectures and I even taught two workshops at a festival and taught yoga to the Varsity Cricket team. Yes, technically I was a student but my yoga classes where the highlights of my week. The self-practice in the tiny uni room, less ideal but if you haven’t knocked everything off your shelves in a failed attempt at headstand then I’d argue you haven’t had the full yoga home experience.
Throughout my years at uni I kept teaching the Uni gym, covering classes during the holidays and even taught a workshop at our ‘rival’ uni (shhh don’t tell anyone). In my second year I spent all my savings on a meditation course…and a car to get myself there…a bold step but so worth it. This was really the final step for me in seeing the physical and mental side of yoga as equal partners. I also started hosting yoga evenings for students in my pokey student house. We had tea and chats, sometimes vegan bakes, and always yoga and meditation. I wanted other students to have the opportunity to easily access yoga and meditation. Yoga had got me through my first uni degree and mental health issues are rife in the student community so for me offering these free sessions was my way of paying back what yoga had done for me a few years before.
After uni and endless applications (more on that another time) I finally landed a job teaching at a retreat centre in Sri Lanka. As I waited for my plane it was like time had turned back and I was that nervous girl heading to my teacher training. Teaching abroad was what I’d dreamed of for the past few years and now I was teaching in a yoga shala with some of the best views I’d ever seen, candles flickering and insects humming. I spent three months here teaching retreats, classes and workshops and generally coordinating the retreat guests and itinerary. I learnt to teach to people who had limited English, during locust invasions but mostly I saw how global the passion for yoga is. I saw people from all corners of the world find joy in yoga.
Now I am back in the UK, teaching online because, well, who isn’t online nowadays. I should have been teaching at TUI SENSATORI in Sharm el Sheikh right now, but the world had other plans. Of course, I am a little sad about this but if I have learnt anything from my yoga journey it is that the road is a country lane not a highway. I have learnt that you can change your mind about your future, you can change the way you see things and you never know what is around the next bend.