Here is a copy of a blog post I wrote after I had been practicing yoga for 6 months. I was still a newbie in the world of yoga, but I had decided it was definitely for me. I truly wrote this from the heart, mostly as a reflection for myself. I hope you find it insightful and interesting. Sam x
Over the past few years I have lost my voice a number of times. Although a major cause was emotional, part of the reason was due to high muscle tension, mostly in my neck, shoulders, face and throat. Consequently, my vocal area was so tight that it was difficult and effortful to talk. As part of my treatment I began a practice of stretching and loosening these areas, as well as trying to relax them. Overtime my body had developed really bad muscle repetition habits and as you can imagine this wasn’t only an isolated problem around my vocal area. I used to find it difficult to sit in a chair as I was so tense I could not get comfortable, I would wake up every night for years with pains across my body but I never understood why… it was only when I was introduced to a body scan technique (which felt REALLY strange and pointless at first) I actually started to understand that my body was tense and even sitting in a chair didn’t need to be this hard work! Hoorah!!
After around 3-4 months of using the techniques I had learned, I managed to turn my vocal area almost back to normal. I could feel it with my own hands the massive difference these stretches had made – wow! If just a few small massage type exercises can do this, what can other stretches do for other parts of my body! Yoga was recommended to me as part of my treatment and I thought why not give it a go! And what better place to start than in a country that loves a good stretch, Japan!
Although I was hopeful about the benefits, I’m not going to lie, I started yoga thinking I might find it boring compared to my Zumba workouts and had many worries racing through my mind – what if it makes the arthritis in my toes worse? What if having my head upside down gives me a headache? What if it’s too difficult? Etc.! I started out attending a weekly yoga class, which I have to admit for the first couple of classes it felt rather strange, because my body had never been in some of these poses before. I wouldn’t say it was painful but some of them did feel a little uncomfortable. However, the teacher was great and talked me through each movement step by step (she spoke English – few!). After a couple of classes I learnt to trust my body and relaxed into the poses more, deepening the stretch whilst actually making it feel much easier! And after a few classes I realised that none of my “what ifs” were relevant. In fact, Yoga will not be too hard as you do what feels best for you on that particular day!
In addition to my weekly class, I found some great (if not slightly fast at first) yoga sequences in YouTube (search Boho Beautiful) and started to practice at home also. Within 4 weeks I could see and feel some progress in my poses, which felt really awesome! Plus, somewhere in the 4-8 week mark I had a revelation… the pains that would keep me awake at night had disappeared!! Yoga feels so amazing when I can feel the tension in my stomach or shoulders, for example, melt out me as I do the poses. In addition, from the understanding I have gained about where I am experiencing tension, I have been able to make small tweaks and adjustments to my body throughout my day to feel more relaxed, confident and comfortable. But if the bad tension does start to strike – I know what to do!
6 Months In
Now, 6 months into my yoga journey, I know I’m exactly where I need to be. Yoga is my own journey that progresses in a way that is right for me and my body and I definitely don’t want it to turn into a chore! Currently, I usually attend two yoga classes and do yoga at least 3 times per week at home. Each session ranges from 10 minutes to 1 hour and it’s good to know I’m doing something positive for myself. I am amazed at the poses I have been able to put my body into in this short amount of time, poses that I never would have thought possible if I had seen a picture. But as I am guided through the pose by a teacher before I know it I am in it – that feeling is incredible! Yoga shows me that I can do things I perhaps never thought possible!
Yoga might not energetic like Zumba but I find I often still break into a mild sweat; it challenges my body and mind in a totally different (but great) way. I can see there are unlimited options and challenges in yoga, so luckily for me there’s no chance of me getting bored! I enjoy the slow controlled movements, working with my body to build strength, balance, stamina and lean muscles. As well as the amazing effects on my body it’s also fantastic for the mind. The slow breathing in yoga and having no distractions whilst I am on the mat really helps me to relax, focus on what I need and feel like I am in-tune with myself; body and mind aligned. It energises my body and mind in a calm and collected way, perfect for when I’m feeling a little fidgety, lost or frazzled or to snap me out of that groggy morning feeling! Or of course to simply shine brighter on all those good days thanks to yoga! My approach to life and no doubt the people around me has become calmer and I feel more positive, compassionate and appreciative of the world.
My next step now is to take a leap of faith in myself and go on a 200 hour Yoga teacher training course in early 2017 in India. I want to learn and experience more about the poses, alignment, anatomy, philosophy and everything yoga! I have felt the benefits of yoga myself and I can’t imagine ever going back to a life without it! I hope to share my new found passion and enable others to experience their own yoga journeys in the future!