Transform your outlook on life and reconnect with your body with this spiritual discipline…
While yoga has been around for thousands of years, in a world where we’re more stressed than ever before, it’s become a popular respite to modern-day living. With the physical and mental benefits tenfold, it’s easy to see why for so many people, yoga becomes a way of life. For these four women, it challenged how they felt about their bodies, and in their own words, healed their relationship with themselves, and the world around them.
“My body could be mine, and mine alone”
For Jordan Ashley, founder of Souljourn Yoga (souljournyoga.com), yoga became a way of reclaiming her body for herself.
“Simply put, yoga saved my life. As a survivor of violence, yoga has helped me reconnect with my sense of self. I started going to classes every day, if not twice, to try and reclaim my body. The shapes and poses, along with being able to connect with your breath and spirit is something I needed. My body could be mine, and mine alone. Teaching seemed like a natural next step and it was amazing to be able to share the practice which helped rebuild my internal architecture. When someone steps onto a yoga mat for the first time, we have no idea what experiences led them up that point. Yoga, for me, isn’t about getting into different shapes, it’s about using the mat as a jumping off point to not only discover the world, but yourself as well. Most people come because they want to fix something. But with yoga, we can begin to create harmony from the inside out.”
“Yoga taught me my true strength – not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too”
Rachel Brathen, aka @yoga_ girl, found solace in yoga.
“Yoga didn’t only change my life; it became a huge part of it — a practice I can return to time and time again. It taught me my true strength — not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It carried me through the loss of my best friend (I tell the whole story in my book, To Love and Let Go) and on the hardest days, my yoga practice consisted of lying in child’s pose and crying on my mat. On days when I’m feeling fierce, my practice is dynamic and sweaty. Now, with a three-year-old daughter, my yoga practice looks like stolen moments of self-care as my daughter naps in the other room. It doesn’t matter what your practice looks like; what matters is how it feels.”
“The feeling of wholeness and strength yoga has given me, gave me the drive to help others thrive”
Instructor Hannah Barrett (hannahbarrettyoga.com) hasn’t looked back since her first class.
“I remember being in one of my first yoga classes and coming into child’s pose. The teacher simply cued us to stop, slow down, and to focus on the breath going in and out. I’d gone into the class feeling amped up after a busy day, but that simple act completely transformed how I felt. I was soon hooked. I started practising daily, and over time, I became more and more drawn in by what yoga teaches you. The feeling of wholeness and strength yoga has given me, gave me the drive to help others thrive, and understand themselves and their bodies better as they develop their practice for themselves.”
“Yoga showed me that I needed to heal from the inside, to make the outside shine”
For Claire Boyle @masseriaimperator, yoga healed her relationship with her body.
“I came to yoga from a body-building background, which at the time, was my life. I did well and I won a lot of competitions, but I started to get ill. My sister-in-law told me to take a step back, so I went on a yoga retreat in Ibiza and that was the start of my journey. I started doing a lot more yoga and decided I wanted to share with other people how it can change your life. In the height of my body-building days, people would give me praise about external attributes and tell me that I looked strong, but it was all superficial. Yoga showed me that I needed to heal from the inside, to make the outside shine.”
1. Start slow: We often push ourselves beyond our limits to be the best. But yoga is all about ease, so you can’t place too big demands on yourself.
2. Honour your practice: Make sure you have your own yoga mat and a clean, dedicated place to practice. This will bring a sense of purpose, intention, and commitment to your session.
3. Find your ohm time: Are you a night owl or a morning lark? Work your practice into the points of the day that will work well for you. For example, if you need to unwind after a long, stressful day in the office, then schedule in some time on the mat in the evening to help you drift off easier.
4. Practice on an empty stomach: It’s best to practice yoga before you’ve eaten, or at least 2-3 hours after your last meal. This way, you can become more in tune with your body as practising with food in your stomach will inevitably lead to discomfort.
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