My story, and the reasons behind why I want to share the practice of yoga with you, is as different as it could be to that of any other yoga teacher.
It started with a life-changing emergency operation.
In February 2015, I was taken into a hospital’s emergency room with excruciating pain in my stomach. Prioritised as critical, when it gradually became apparent the doctors were struggling to diagnose what was wrong, the fear and panic started to become overwhelming. After eight hours of tests and scans, they performed an emergency operation that saved my life. As it turned out, a part of my intestines had twisted, which, had it not been removed would have killed me.
Just six months before this, I had qualified as a Personal Trainer and had left a stressful corporate lifestyle behind in quest of a more rewarding vocation, that of helping people lead healthier and happier lives. My operation however threatened to change everything once again – because the surgeons had needed to sever all of my abdominal muscles. Following the surgery, I had to have intensive physiotherapy to strengthen all my core muscles again. I needed to recover, and wanted to recover quickly. I badly wanted my life back, but little did I know of what was yet to come.
I didn’t realise I needed help and I felt such a failure, so powerless. That was tough. It was difficult for me to slow down and stop, to adapt to the changes forced upon me, and to accept my new reality – personal training seemed so far away.
The first two years after was a roller coaster. I was in constant pain – I’d lost 20% of my small intestine and that had a huge impact on how my digestive enzymes and acids digested food. On top of that, it really hurt. With hardly a moment’s notice wellness could change to piercing pain and ill health. Eventually, I had to learn to accept that sometimes the even best laid plans for the day may have to be modified, severely curtailed or sometimes even abandoned altogether.
When I had left the hospital, it was without any understanding or instructions as to how to live without a significant part of me. I searched for people to relate to, initially finding those with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Later, I found a Short Bowels Syndrome group. My search included many hospital visits and taking test after test to learn about my “new” body, how it worked and how I could live with it.
I hated it.
I thought this was it for the rest of my life.
But my journey continued, and after another year I started to appreciate that I had failed to give myself time to heal. I was neither patient nor kind enough to myself, and had been refusing, at a fundamental level, to accept what had happened. When it finally hit me, I needed to talk to someone. I couldn’t keep it in any more. During my therapy, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and was encouraged to return to what I loved, so finally I decided to return to yoga.
My best friend promised to come with me for support and during my first class I just started to cry, uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop. But they were tears of happiness, because for the first time in a long time I was able to move and stretch my body again without excruciating pain. That special something that yoga gave me broke down all of my barriers – and offered me the chance at a new way of living.
While pursuing my previous career, I started attending yoga classes to de-stress, to ‘fix’ my back pains and aching muscles because the relief I felt lasted longer than a visit to the chiropractor, but now, yoga became, as it still remains my go-to place to move my body, to stay healthy and to be strong, to accept myself as I am and to remind myself that it is imperfection rather than perfection that we all love. When I couldn’t make it to a yoga class, I would meditate using a guided meditation tool to remind myself of this journey to self-care. In doing so I discovered that before I could accept what had happened to me, I needed to change from within. And I discovered that my yoga was the most effective way for me to do that.
Feeling intrigued with the philosophy of yoga, I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training course in February 2017. Although unsure about teaching at first, as both my knowledge and experience grew so did my confidence. I incorporated yoga into a holistic health and fitness regime, that made me want to reach out to those who didn’t regularly attend gyms to share what I have found out.
What I’ve learnt about myself, body and mind, during my recovery is more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. Yoga, meditation, and nutrition played a big part in getting me where I am today; to accept my condition, and the fatigue and anxiety that comes with it. I’m still experimenting with foods that boost my energy levels (believe it or not, some of the best foods are my least favourite – kale, and beetroot). I’m constantly reading new information about our gut, the so-called second brain. It is through yoga, healthy eating, and self-care that I cultivated a new and more positive way of being that I want to share with you.
In my yoga classes, I combine strength and flexibility for the body – as a way of tackling any minor aches and niggles – with meditation to calm and strengthen the mind and to quieten that inner critical, restless and negative voice that holds so many of us back from achieving all that we could do. By the end of the class, my hope is that you step off the mat feeling refreshed, balanced, and inspired to deepen your yoga, be it in one of my sessions, or in your everyday life.
I welcome all personalities, shapes, and sizes, both experienced practitioners and newcomers to the mat, and I urge you to set aside time for self-love and self-care. It is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and patience, but brings untold rewards in return.
I hope you will join me.