It may already be on your radar that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Most of us can admit to going through difficult times, feeling lonely, anxious, low self-esteem and self-doubt. However we don't often admit that these periods in our lives may be a glitch in our mental health.
When I decided to train as a yoga teacher, I wasn't really sure what direction my life was going in. My children were all approaching, or already in their early teens. I had been managing a long term chronically bad back for years and I had no desire to resume my former career.
When one of my yoga teachers floated the idea of me training to teach yoga myself, I was initially horrified. I felt completely inadequate, there was simply no way that I was in any position to teach yoga to others.
However she convinced me that if taking yoga classes was making a difference to me managing my daily life, then perhaps now was the time to delve a little deeper. Eventually I came round to the idea and although I didn't think I would ever have the confidence to actually teach, there was no harm in doing the training.
The teacher's training course I eventually chose was set in modules over 18 months. Located near where I live in #London and run as a separate educational arm of my local yoga studio. It meant I could easily fit it around trying to be a good mother to my five children and also absorb and assimilate the information in bite size chunks. Even so, there
were times when I really did feel that fitting in the actual training days, undertaking personal study, essay writing, attending extra yoga classes, extended reading and working on my self practice was a struggle. However with the help of my supportive husband and family, fellow students and tutors, my knowledge and love of yoga began to grow. I also realised that I was beginning to feel a little better about myself in the process.
True I didn't feel as if I was ever going to cut the grade and be the most physically accomplished or knowledgable yoga teacher ever to grace the yoga studios of West London. I certainly had no pretensions of becoming anyone's guru and 16 years on I still don’t! However to my surprise I began to notice that when I taught, people seemed to feel better and this in turn I began to realise, led to me feeling better too.
So what am I taking such a long time to say here? I guess it's this. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, isolated or low. If so called friends have knocked you back and life’s pressures are getting you down, just take a minute and ask yourself what it is that you can do that's just for you? What makes you feel better? What feeds you? In my case I had already discovered that yoga had become one of my anchors, a solid foundation upon which I could build something that was just for me. This despite the fact that I have been blessed with a loving husband and family and for many years have enjoyed being a member of my church and my community. My yoga practice and over 16 years of teaching my interpretation of yoga to others have really helped me with my mental health and well-being
Practicing yoga is like creating your own sanctuary, it’s setting aside time for self care. Yoga helps us to feel stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and be more receptive to our spiritual potential, whatever our belief’s, or lack of them might be. If any of this resonates with you, or you think that practicing yoga might help someone you know, encourage yourself, or them, to give it a go.
There are so many yoga classes around these days, in every town, neighbourhood, village hall or leisure centre. Find one, turn up (yes that’s the hard bit) and just allow yourself to enjoy it with an open mind. No matter what age you are, whether you’re bendy or stiff, strong or weak, you will find that you slowly restore your faith in you.
If you would like more information about my private & public yoga classes in West London or the Day Retreats & Residential Yoga Breaks that my husband Dominic & I have planned over the next 12 months please take a look at my website.
I really hope we see you on a mat somewhere soon.