Yoga - A New Understanding
I first started training in the gym in 2004. I was 23 years old and initially I saw weight training as the tool to achieve the femininely muscular body I was aspiring to, and it was also a great way for me to find a healthy fitness routine. I was always active and sporty whilst growing up. A broken heart triggered body image issues as a teenager, which led to an eating disorder or disordered eating and training. The eating disorder was at it’s worst when I was 19 years old however wasn’t diagnosed. Thankfully loving friends and family had been expressing concern and this eventually resulted in me being concerned for myself. I saw a doctor who I made myself accountable to each week and slowly gained weight and was at a healthier weight range at 20 years of age. Although a healthier body weight was achieved I wasn’t authentically happy with my body shape and it wasn’t until I entered the gym environment that I saw something for myself within weight training.
For me at first, weight training was all about pushing and lifting harder and harder session after session. Inner passion had ignited and I naturally fell into the fitness and personal training industry becoming a Personal Trainer at age 26. Due to my history, I was strong willed, disciplined, dedicated and had an extreme desire to achieve. My strong desire for a lean and femininely muscular body carried me into the body sculpting industry. Although these attributes assisted me greatly in success on the body sculpting stage I wasn’t truly healthy and my energy was far from balanced and harmonious.
After having very successful years in 2008 and 2009 I began to question my life and where it was heading, I enjoyed training, keeping fit and eating healthily however the enthusiasm for body sculpting was dissolving away. I was still living hard and fast, however was in a mode of self-questioning. Only months after this self-inquiry began I had a near death experience, a motorcycle accident in January 2011 - divine timing! Life had literally put me on my backside to slow me the hell down and listen to my hearts voice. I entered a deep state of contemplation and questioning what my life was all about. How and why was I still here? What was life’s purpose? What did I have to contribute to the world?
The answers didn’t come straight away, however I knew that there was far more to life than the life I was previously experiencing. I gained a feeling, a “knowing”, that there was a greater mission, expression, and divine plan, not just me but for all of us as individuals. I knew I was already making a positive impact with people through sharing energy via Personal Training, and Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching. I then began to open myself to further personal development and possibilities within the scope of sharing energy to facilitate awakening, openness and freedom within others.
Soon after recovering from the accident I met and befriended a lovely male soul who was well in touch with his spiritual nature. We shared common interests in living a fit and healthy lifestyle incorporating body and mind. His way of being inspired me in many ways, and this resulted in me being open enough to accept an invitation to join him for a hot Hatha Yoga class. Previously I was not one for classes, I had participated in a few Body Balance classes however the busyness of my mind had me believe that this just wasn’t for me, I much preferred the intensity of training.
Clearly I had the wrong impression of yoga, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the hot Hatha Yoga practice. It was physically challenging, mind calming and spiritually shifting - harmoniously balanced. The busyness of my mind cleared and the shift within my energy was incredible, and needless to say I discovered that there was far more to yoga than relaxation, stretching and flexibility. I felt wonderfully light when leaving the space with a sense of mind clarity like never before, and I welcomed all of these feelings with immense appreciation and gratitude. My only regret was not having being open enough to discover this sooner. From that day I rarely missed a regular weekly yoga session, and this soon became more frequent, sometimes up to three times per week, and my training in the gym naturally became less frequent to allow space for this.
I am so grateful of this dear friend who inspired me to be open and receive the wonderful benefits of Hatha Yoga. The practice was generating shifts and transformation within my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body and energy, and profound effects were rippling out into every area of my life. Yoga lead to many other experiences of personal development, and many of these involved me taking a brutally honest look at myself. As I liberated myself from suffering and started living a clear, authentic and transparent life, I was naturally being the window of possibility and facilitating freedom within others.
I had been practicing yoga for five years and was naturally becoming more and more interested. I was including the postures and sharing the benefits with Personal Training clients and felt divinely guided to take this further by completing my Yoga Teacher Training. Within the training I developed a deeper understanding of Yoga and why and how the benefits take place.
I share my understandings with the intention of others maybe seeing something for themselves within Yoga.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word and it translates as ‘Union’, to join or unite body, mind, emotions and spirit. Hatha is translated as 'Ha' meaning 'Sun' and 'Tha' meaning 'Moon'. This refers to the balance of Masculine aspects (Active, Hot, Sun) and Feminine aspects (Receptive, Cool, Moon) - aspects that exist within us all. The human body has both a female channel of energy (Ida nadi) and a male channel of energy (Pingala nadi). These channels weave like a snake (kundalini energy) from the base of the spine (root chakra) passing up through each of the chakras within the body meeting at the “third eye” (brow/Ajna chakra), the energy then radiates from the top of the skull (crown chakra), the point of enlightenment.
Hatha Yoga is a path toward creating balance by harmonizing polarities and uniting opposites (Male/Female, Yin/Yang, Shiva/Shakti). The practice shows us how to balance our effort and surrender in each posture, and it asks us to bring our attention to our breath (pranayama), which helps us to still the mind and be present in each moment. The sequence of Hatha Yoga exercises (asanas or postures) is designed to balance strength and flexibility, and it also aligns our skin, muscles, organs and bones. The postures are also designed to open the channels (nadis) of the body creating a smooth flow of kundalini energy. The session begins with the more masculine (yang) practice creating a gentle heat within the body before a transition into the more relaxed, reclined and female (yin) postures preparing the body, mind and spirit for a deep state of meditation. The even flow and balance of male and female energy brings us to a harmonized state, polarity becomes one, giving us access to divine self-healing on all levels. The final meditation is the moment we work for, there is nothing to do but rest and relax in the final posture (Savasana) and enjoy. The main purpose of yoga is meditation, it is here when we’re truly present, and the mind is clear and still, that we have access to divine insights and intelligence, therefore Savasana is definitely not to be missed.
We are not just a physical body - we have mental, emotional and spiritual energy too. Hatha Yoga is more than just a physical practice it’s a transformational journey and can be incredibly influential on all levels of awareness and consciousness.
While working at a surf yoga retreat in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, I was inspired to gain accreditation in Kundalini Yoga. The practice of Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing, meditation and the chanting of mantras, such as “Sat Nam” meaning “truth is my identity”. A series of postures is known as a “Kriya”, and each kriya works towards a specific outcome by arousing the kundalini energy and activating the chakras. Again, the intention is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
More recently I became accredited in Yin Yoga. This practice consists of a series of long-held floor postures to stress the connective tissue and meridian lines, and this has a very beneficial effect on the related organs, systems and emotional aspects of each. This is a very receptive practice that’s based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposites. Yin Yoga is known as “the gateway to meditation” as the postures bring us into a state of meditation, stillness, observation and allowance.
The missing piece back in the early days of my weight-training journey was that I was neglecting my receptive and feminine energy. Weight training uses our masculine energy and is needed for strength, stability and power, however I discovered for myself that my imbalance of energy and anxiousness was because at the time the only receptive activity I participated in was sleep, and of course the soul needs more than just sleep to fully recharge. Yoga in its various styles has me feel inner harmony, wholeness, and a sense alignment, that things are moving in a positive direction. I enjoy staying connected with my heart, soul and divine self, and the profound and reassuring sense that there’s unseen support at play.
Prior to Yoga I was living in a fixed and 2-Dimensional world or reality. If you imagine looking at a cube, from a 2-Dimensional perspective it looks like a square. Stepping outside of this and from a different angle we see there is another dimension, it is now 3-Dimensional. Beyond 3-Dimensional can be a likened to imagining or remembering the old televisions we had that could tune into only 3 or 4 channels, and these days the number of channels available is endless, a kaleidoscope of Dimensions and possibilities.
When we have an awakening we discover that there is more to what we are experiencing and can then approach life from this new perspective. The near death experience, and then Yoga, led me to see, feel, hear and experience life differently. For me Yoga was the bridge from a fixed reality into a more open and expansive reality full of possibilities and exciting potential.
The beauty of yoga practice is that it restores balance and as individuals we get from it what we seek.