Beginning Yoga

When everything had fallen apart, I got over myself and onto a yoga mat and I have never looked back.

JANUARY 2ND, 2017

I came to the mat with a battered body and a shattered heart. I had crashed hard into the bottom of the rocks, the tide was in and the storm was so fierce, not only had I forgotten how to swim, I had lost the desire to even try.

Out of hope, a friend persuaded me to go to a yoga class. Being a full figured, beer drinking, ex rugby player I squirmed at the thought of it. I scoffed at the term yogi. My mind wailed that it was stretchy nonsense for beautiful lycra wearers to show off their impeccable figures and that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I would be a disgusting laughing stock. I 100% believed that critical inner voice. I believed it as I walked into the Flow studio in Belfast. I believed it as I was shown where to get my mat. I believed it as the beautiful, feline like instructor began the class. I believed it as I watched the exquisite bodies in motion all around me. However, as I observed and feebly attempted to make shapes with my own body I realised no one was watching me, instead they were focused, they were soaking something in, they were vibrating on a difference frequency that seemed to radiate from the instructor (and for anyone that’s taken Elizabeth’s class you know what i’m talking about – dang girl, that lady has got some serious celestial sass) and so I too focused, I had no idea what I was doing or what it meant but I wanted in!

I forced myself to go back, class after class after class and through sweat (always in class) and tears (sometimes in class) I began to find that I actually really wanted to practice. I wanted to be a yogi. Elizabeth has absolutely been a beacon of light for me, the classes began to feel like my safe place and not just Liz’s; i’ve been to so many different instructors at Flowstudiobelfast.com and every one of them brings their own inspirational frequency. Oh my heart might burst with gratitude!  But don’t just take my word for it, check them out. It’s like a tiny slice of nirvana, albeit in Belfast, but hey, maybe that’s even more of a triumph! Going there is like receiving the warmest of hugs from the oldest of friends, and in a way it is because i’m making friends with myself again.

I bought a mat as a commitment to my practice and to my self (and because it was a super sticky one  and I was genuinely afraid of face planting). I began practicing by myself.  I made yogi friends – the most beautiful bunch of beings! I began reading and expanding my knowledge on yoga and meditation and without realising it, the fact I had initially come to the mat so broken had become my greatest virtue. I was cracked so very wide open that I was in a position to learn about and rework the very essence of myself. As Buddhist nun Pema Chodron has said “You must face annihilation over and over again to find what is indestructible in yourself”. That.

I am no expert and lycra will never be a great look for me, but I am in love with this journey that I am on. I am not paralysed by my anxiety. I can breathe again. I can laugh again. I stumble, I fall, sometimes I quite literally face plant my mat (note to self: must find an even stickier mat), but my inner warrior is becoming stronger than my inner demon and I pick myself up again and I want to share this unexpected and beautiful journey in the hope that some other chubby or lost soul might take the courage to invest in themselves. To see through the stereotypes, the self consciousness, the hopelessness and realise how expansive and beautiful their potential truly is. To realise that endings and beginnings can be one and the same. To see that if you service yourself, you can withstand any storm that comes your way. To quote Chodron (again!)

“you are the sky and everything else is just the weather”.