Returning the favour, I’m featuring a guest blog post from a fellow blogger and yoga student. Here she discusses what brought her to yoga, and why she comes to yoga now.
Why do I practise yoga? Why did I start yoga? When I was asked these questions, I had to stop and think. There are many reasons why I practice yoga, but none of them are the reason why I started.
When I first tried yoga I was looking to do one thing only: lose weight.
When I was 25 I was on lots of anti-convulsant medications for seizures which were really bad for me. One of the side effects was weight gain. In one year I gained 3 stone and went up to size 18. I was also quite stiff.
I was looking for a suitable exercise that wouldn’t induce seizures or make them worse, and while running was something I aspired to do, it wasn’t good for me because I was so heavy, unfit and at risk of seizures (there are some conditions where increasing heart rate needs to be carefully monitored).
So I tried a couple of yoga classes. One was a Hatha yoga class which introduced me to meditation; the other was Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.
Initially, I preferred the Ashtanga classes, because one of the things that moving around did was distract me from my thoughts (of which there were many!). It was also quite athletic and made me sweat LOTS! I lost weight as a result of this and a combination of walking.
Additionally, my Ashtanga yoga teacher was the first person to draw my attention to my breathing. This was a new uncharted area for me because I had never paid it much attention or thought about what impact breathing had on my health.
Initially I tried to attend the Ashtanga class as often as I was physically capable, once every two weeks was the average, for about the first year, then I moved house. When I moved I started to do other things like tai chi, but carried on with yoga poses in the background on my own until I found another yoga teacher who taught Hatha yoga.
This was a positive experience and I felt really relaxed and energised during the Hatha yoga classes. When the teacher left the area I tried to keep up with some asanas at home but didn’t have a teacher. When I found ‘Yoga I Bawb’ I was really pleased because I found the teachers friendly and helpful.
There are now 3 main reasons why I practise yoga:
1) To help me with breathing; which helps with stress and seizure management.
2) To help me with body alignment which is very important. I feel quite a lot of pain if my back and hips are not in the right place. It helps a lot to stretch! And it keeps me fit.
3) Yoga makes me feel really peaceful! Mindfulness and meditation are part of yoga and these have been really helpful to me.
The last reason was quite a surprising outcome, considering the original objective was weight loss!
Yoga has helped me to learn more about myself and I have met some great people along the way. I look forward to yoga practise on my own and in class. It also complements my tai chi practice.
I am very interested in how exercise such as yoga, tai chi and martial arts training can positively impact on physical and emotional wellbeing. As a result I write a blog about epilepsy management experiences and complementary health which can be found here.
This guest blog post shows how yoga can bring many benefits, including unexpected ones.