Yoga has changed my life in so many ways. As a teenager and in my early 20s I was in a place of anxiety, never feeling good enough and feeling like a fraud in my own life. I felt that if I wasn’t pretty and cute nobody would hang out with me. I was too ashamed to reveal the ‘real’ me, if I ever felt I knew what that was, to any more than a few close friends.
The biggest change came when I went to university. Moving out of my comfort zone and getting to know so many people (and people that wanted to get to know me!), forced me to face up to myself and start taking responsibility for my own happiness. Making new friends who really knew ‘me’ gave me the courage to try and to work hard at things I’d previously been too embarrassed to.
It was this initial jump start that allowed me to begin exploring yoga in a more meaningful way than just throwing shapes on my mat. As I started to listen to my teachers, to respect and have fun with my practice, I began to recognise my boundaries. To grow confident in what I could, would and wouldn’t do. The more I practised the more confident I got in understanding myself and the more I understood myself the more confident I became in my practice. My relationship with myself began.
Yoga has become a tool for me in maintaining my enthusiasm for everyday life. Taking time to myself to breathe and move and meditate means I am less likely to get overwhelmed throughout the day. My practice helps me to remember to breathe and allow life to happen rather than trying to control or manipulate.
Practising yoga makes me more mindful. This affects so many parts of my life. I’m more aware of what I put in my body. Definitely more attracted to healthier options but also, less guilt-ridden when I do decide to have something a little less nutritious. I don’t hold any stress about what I eat now, I respect that I always make the best decision for myself in the moment, and I do. Along with my physical practice, being mindful of my activity and of what I eat has made me stronger. Physically, I am 10 times more capable than I was 5 years ago and that boosts my self-confidence like nothing else. I love living in the knowledge that I can take care of myself.
As well as being more connected to myself and my body, I feel I am better connected to those around me. Being mindful helps me to be a better listener and gives me the confidence not to need to talk about myself aaall the time. The practice has really helped my deepen my relationships. It is something I will always be working on, and yoga gives me the space and the tools to do that.
When I talk about my yoga practice I am referring to all that that encompasses, from asana through pranayama, meditation and mindfulness to taking yoga off the mat and brining it into my everyday life. It is my experience that practising all these limbs of yoga makes my life easier. Not that challenging circumstances don’t happen but I’m better equipped to deal with them and it’s easier to let go of stress that occurs from difficult situations.
What is your experience of bringing yoga into your life? Whether you’ve just started a yoga practice or you’re a seasoned practitioner, I’d love to hear what yoga means to you.