Shhh, I have a guilty secret… I struggled to love yoga when I first started doing it. I know for some people, the yoga journey is very calm and zen, but every yogi’s different, and I definitely wobbled finding my yogi feet. Fortunately my story has a happy ending, and I’m now a yoga teacher.
YOGA THE BEGINNING
I started doing yoga classes back in 2001 because I wanted to look like Madonna (when she was sleek and buffed, and very different to the Madonna of today). The Queen of Pop said that doing Ashtanga yoga had transformed her physique, and made her physically and mentally strong.
I was living in Antibes in the South of France and was beginning my career in the superyacht industry. A friend of mine started teaching Ashtanga classes, and I wanted guns like Madonna, so I was so totally in!
Growing up, I was a rhythmic gymnast so I thought I’d easily get the hang of this yoga business. Oh how I struggled! Ashtanga was strong, powerful and required cardio as well as serious balance. I was very sporty, lean and flexible but definitely not strong! I was twisted into all sorted of contortions that I didn’t imagine my body could do.
LOVE / HATE
I think the hardest part for a 21-year-old party girl was the breathing and controlling of the mind. I hated the chanting, any spirituality part about it – I just wanted another get-fit-quick fix. I remember getting so annoyed at the end of class if we went way over time lying in Savasana because I’d either be late for my fave TV show or for my social plans that night! So NOT zen!!
I did love how it made my body feel though and how quickly I was able to do advanced asanas – mostly because my friend / teacher pushed me quite hard. I didn’t mind though.. I liked being one of the most advanced in the class and sweating like I’d just had good workout. How else was I going to get that Madonna body? I clearly wasn’t spiritually mature enough to take on anything but the physical aspect of yoga.
My love / hate relationship with yoga also helped me to sort out the chatter in my mind. Everytime I went to class, I gave everything for 1.5 hours, and I battled with my mind to stay focused on the pose. And I would always leave class feeling overjoyed, and on cloud 9.… except for the times that I got annoyed about an extra long Savasana!!
It seems crazy thinking about it now because Savasana is now my favourite part of the class, and it’s never long enough. It certainly shows how my priorities have changed!
YOGA & SUPERYACHTS
Working in the superyacht industry on luxury floating hotels, I was literally, and spiritually all over the place. I was a very on-again-off-again yogi. Have you tried headstands & balancing postures while rolling around at sea?
With my journey on board these big vessels, I travelled around the world in style, and was exposed to lots of different types of yoga, and I experienced many different teachers and styles.
Ashtanga Yoga was always my first love, and it was this that I practiced when I could find it. In my spare time I would go on yoga/surf holidays, which were epic! Two years ago I put my landlubber’s shoes back on, and moved out of the boating world full stop, and now I could put my feet firmly on the yoga mat.
I broke my ankle and had stopped practicing yoga for almost 2 years, and I was scared of not having the practice and the flexibility that I once had. My ego was very bruised, and I had to let that go… isn’t that what yoga is all about.
It wasn’t just about getting strong anymore, it was about doing the best thing possible for my body. I suffered from back pain for many years and I don’t think lugging my life in bags around the world helped! Yoga was the only thing that made it feel better, as well as the impact on my body, mind and soul. My body felt so much more aligned, lighter and free after each class. The aches and pains that start creeping in at 30-something living started to impact my wellbeing. It was the only time I could really feel present and so in tune with my body. It’s so hard to explain the incredible emotion and inner peace you feel from practicing yoga but for all of you yogi’s – you totally get it, right?
I was more spiritually awake than I had ever been. Re-connecting with yoga supported my spiritual journey of self-discovery and self-awareness. Having fun was my number one priority in my twenties, and yoga could not break through my protective armoury I had built up. Peeling back the layers, I invited yoga back in and have never looked back.
I spent 3 months in Bali last year and immersed myself in yoga, and tried different classes, teachers and shalas. The 3rd month I returned, I qualified as a YTT200 yoga teacher. In the past, I’d had many people encourage me to become a teacher but I wasn’t ready to embrace all that is yoga.
As true yogis all know; yoga is not just about movement but it ultimately teaches us to be the best version of ourselves, and to truly connect with our inner being. The ultimate goal is to quieten the mind as much as possible.
Yoga is very much a huge part of who I am today, and a big part of why Wellness Gypsy came to be.
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