When I was 13-years-old, I began attending class at the local gym with my mum in the evenings after school. In all classes I ever went to, I was always the youngest person and no-one at school that I knew of practised yoga. I never loved sport and exercise either but yoga felt different to normal exercise it was much more calming, fun and lacked judgement that was so commonly present in school.
Yoga in the gym was a good introduction to the practice, however, the sound of weights and music from the gym floor that filled the class soon became tiring, we yearned for something authentic and creative incorporating the meditative side of the practice as well as the movement.
In our keen search, we stumbled across Nancy.
For me, Nancy’s classes are where my yoga journey began. Her classes were a special time of the week where only a few of us would come together to move and relax. I specifically remember being in a seated forward bend and for the first time the connection between using my breath as an aid to release tension really clicked into place.
Typically, as we had found our perfect yoga teacher Nancy left, however, she recommended a guy named Gary, who taught out of the hayloft at a local farm. Dubious and sad to say goodbye to Nancy we went along to Gary’s classes.
Yoga in the Hayloft
It was a Wednesday evening, 7.15pm, in the early summer. Birds sung in the low evening sun that shone, hugging our skin and caressing our cheeks as we tentatively walked up to the weathered farm house. Ducks, rabbits and goats roamed the garden wandering over to inquisitively welcome us.
We walked through a stoney passage decorated with plant pots and seedlings, the aroma of cooking wafting through the corridor and the gentle tinkle of pans chimed like singing bowls as we climbed the rickety stairs, mats tightly under our arms. Ascending the stairs felt like we were disconnecting from the rat race. we greeted each other in hushed tones as we waited outside the hayloft for the class before us to ease out of Savasana and connect back with the world.
Gary’s classes became the best sessions I have attended in my yoga practice so far and I think they will always remain a treasured memory in my yoga journey. There was a strong emphasis on grounding the body and mind in Savasana, moving with mindfulness and intention followed by a creative meditation and profound reading that resonated with me every week.
My journey with yoga continued through Gary’s classes for the next two-four years.
Retreating to the French Alps
I started enjoying the practice greatly and at 18-years-old, I booked a six-day yoga retreat in the French Alps.
Walking into arrivals, I was greeted by a tight-knit group who were 20-years-older than me. In the minibus on the way to the out of season ski village, they kept asking questions about my connection with yoga, a little curious at my age and enjoyment of the practice.
Feeling uncomfortable as everyone knew each other and unsure about whether I had booked onto the right thing, I still immersed myself into the experience.
We woke at 6am everyday and clambered into a minibus to be driven to the studio nestled in the mountains.
The pine studio was warm and open, looking out onto a mammoth mountain range, clouds cutting off the the summits. We practised for 2 hours daily, then headed back for a nourishing breakfast and a day of hiking, wild swimming and mountain biking.
I have a vivid memory of sitting in a hot tub looking out onto the mountains. As I sat bubbling gazing at the scenery I remember feeling peaceful, tranquil and at ease, empowered in the knowledge that movement and meditation had helped me feel such a way and at 18-years-old and grateful that I had found my favourite thing to do.
This is a memory I hold very fondly and recall to visualise at stressful times or when settling down for cosy Savasana.
It’s this memory that inspired me to train to be a teacher. After a difficult time working in a job I couldn't bare I was chatting about this experience recounting how good I knew I could feel, then slowly had the realisation that this was something I could feel again and I could also help others learn about yoga and integrate it into their lives too! It was a revelation.
In a matter of hours, I booked onto a course and it revolutionised my life in all sorts of ways.
From that day in June 2018, I started a disciplined practise. I got up the next morning and went to the mat and have done so every day since.
One of the biggest learnings from exploring yoga further is my understanding that yoga is not just performed on the mat. It’s a way of life and something that can be practised and incorporated into everything we do daily. Even if we fail at it, yoga builds the confidence to in us to keep on trying.
What yoga means to me
At 29-years-old the practise has become this amazing, wonderful tool-kit aiding me to keep me grounded, physically and mentally healthy and connected.
Teaching and sharing yoga with people is one of my favourite things to do in the whole word and my aim as a teacher is to share with as many people as I possibly can how movement, breathing and mindfulness can be used as a superpower to help us connect back to our essence.
If you want to practise with me and learn more about yoga, I teach an open class on Thursdays via Zoom at 7.30-8.30pm, the recording is also available for on demand yoga, so you can practise at a time that suits you.
Pop me a message via email@example.com to book a place.