I recently wrote a status on Facebook proclaiming that Yoga had changed my life. Which I agree sounds kind of dramatic. My former self of a year ago would have read a statement like that and been naturally dubious. Really? It changed your life? Huh, right, okay…. And yet it’s true.
Perhaps I should have elaborated a little more on how it changed my life, after all I still live in the same house, in the same town, I am still married with two children and I still do the same job. And yet I am totally transformed. With today being International Yoga Day, I thought it was perfect timing to go into a little more detail on the profound effect yoga has had, and is still having on me.
Firstly I’ll let you in on a secret. I am not a very sporty person. I have been known to hang out a bit at the gym in an attempt to try and keep fit but it’s always begrudgingly and I can never seem to sustain it longer than a few months. I have been known to feel a bit self conscious in the gym. I never really felt comfortable sweating and turning a deep shade of tomato in front of strangers.
Day 1 of Kundalini yoga and my first lesson was ‘We leave our ego’s outside of the yoga studio’. Refreshing! And yet I thought, easier said than done. I definitely stepped into the class with a first rate ego, always conscious of what others may think of me, eager not to embarrass myself, look composed and keep up with the class.
By the end of the lesson I had more of an understanding of what my lovely teacher Corrine meant. Even though I may have felt a little self conscious doing some of the more ‘ out there ‘ breathing techniques and yoga moves, within a few weeks that awkwardness had completely disappeared. I was there for myself, this was entirely my journey and I was in the zone! As far as I am aware there is only me and Corrine in the room while I am doing my class, it helps that the majority of the class is done with our eyes closed too.
So how did I come along the path of Kundalini yoga? Totally by accident, or perhaps totally meant to be, who knows? It was Christmas 2018 and I was reading a book called ‘How to be your bad ass self’ by Jen Sincero. It was good read and got me thinking about my life and where I was at this point which to be honest wasn’t quite where I wanted to be.
You see I’d been struggling to manage my stress levels and moods for quite a few years. I found the slightest thing triggered me whether it was the children misbehaving or something not going my way at work. I put it down to having a young family, running my own business, planning a wedding and renovating a house, all at the same time. I sure had a lot on my plate so it was no wonder I felt crappy. Deep down I knew I was still ‘me’, the me I liked, the joyful, creative, kind person but I felt like I was drowning in this heavy overcoat I didn’t want to be wearing. Only I couldn’t take it off. It was a constant struggle between the person I wanted to be and this person who was just not really okay. Kind of trying to be ok, maintaining I was okay to the outside world (I think?) but really not being okay on the inside. Sad, angry, confused by everything and nothing I could quite put my finger on. I mean I had a great life but I still didn’t feel great. Why didn’t I feel great?
On a whim, I googled yoga classes in my area and came across Corrine’s class. I attended not knowing a thing about Kundalini yoga or what was in store for me! Wow, I was in for a surprise. Reaching out for some kind of spirituality and finding everything I needed and more, so much more.
What is Kundalini yoga?
Perhaps I need to back up and give you a brief introduction into Kundalini yoga as like me 6 months ago you probably hadn’t heard of it. Kundalini is both a physical and spiritual yogic practice that works on awakening the kundalini energy through movement, breathing techniques, mantra and meditation. It’s goal is to build physical vitality and consciousness within the individual so they can realise their life purpose. It’s an ancient form of yoga and it’s believed to go back as far as 1000BC.
Kundalini yoga is healing to me. Through movement, meditation and deep relaxation, gong healing / sound therapy I heal each one of my chakras. Each lesson we tackle a different area to work on. We strengthen our neutral mind and learn to quieten our negative minds. I read somewhere that 90% of people live in their negative minds, wow! A yogi is neutral which means they are not controlled by their minds. We open our hearts to love and most importantly love ourselves so we are so full of love that we are complete. Being loved by others is only a bonus!
So how has yoga changed me?
In the past 7 months, I’ve changed a lot. To an outsider maybe nothing has changed. I am still the same person, in the same house, job and personal situation. But inside I’ve changed. Each week, each month that passes brings new changes and is still bringing transformation. Some are subtle and continually evolving, some are more obvious to me.
I’ve changed mentally
It took me about 2-3 weeks of attending classes with Corrine for my moods to change. Everything felt lighter. I shifted from the negative mind into the neutral. I seem to be able to deal with stress and I don’t sweat the small stuff. Ragey people in cars no longer make my blood boil inside of me, I’m pretty much indifferent. Work stresses no longer make me feel tight in my chest and like I can’t breathe. Instead I just knuckle down and deal with the situation to the best of my ability, it’s all I can do after all!
I shout less at the kids. It used to be much more frequent than I’d have liked but these days we can have whole days, heck even whole weeks, dare I say whole months with me not raising my voice in anger. I mean the little monkeys really know how to test me but I have a deep well of patience and good humour I just didn’t have before.
I’m much less afraid. Afraid of what bad things could happen, afraid of what someone might think, afraid of not being liked, afraid of speaking my truth. I trust in the universe.
I’m way more joyful. I SING and DANCE again! I never realised that I’d stopped singing (how sad is that, it really shocked me when I realised that) but I had… I’d stopped singing along to the music. Here’s another secret I actually sometimes want to dance across a carpark because I feel so joyful! I haven’t actually gone for it yet but who knows you may spot me one day, haha!
I’m wanting to spend more and more time out in nature. I was always a nature lover but everything is more beautiful than it ever was before. Every tree, hill, sky, plant is magnified in it’s breathtaking beauty these days!
It’s changed my health
I have no physical pains at all. I’ve never been one to suffer with any chronic pains or anything but I did often hold stress in my neck and shoulders which I no longer do. In fact I haven’t been ill at all, not even a cold in nearly 7 months. Which I think is pretty good going.
Physically I am able to push my body to do more in yoga class and not give in to my negative mind trying to tell me I cannot do it. Some of the Kriyas can really test this and I find an amazing strength and energy from inside me which I find incredibly empowering.
And then there are little things. Like the fact that I have bitten my finger nails since about the age of 7 when I lost my baby brother and never quite recovered from that anxious feeling as a child that someone I loved was going to die. I’ve never been able to stop despite trying many, many times. Even when I wasn’t biting them it seemed my nails still didn’t want to grow. 30 years later and 3 months into my yoga journey and my nails started to grow beautifully as if by magic!
I’ve also spent the best part of 15 years battling with my diet and the way I look. I’ve slowly put on more weight over the years, much to my dismay, as I thought I was a healthy eater. I’m pleased to say I’ve even managed to improve on that, choosing to eat mainly fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting right down on the sugar and processed carbs. A few months of yoga saw me change to being a vegetarian, it felt a totally natural lifestyle change to make aligned with my yoga practice.
What’s even better is I’ve thrown away my weighing scales because they are absolutely NO good for me!
So there you go, that’s just a few ways yoga has changed me but I’m not finished yet! My heightened intuition, my new, more neutral mind are just the start for me, the foundation for me to take the next step.
I’m still working on myself, still healing and learning, uncovering my journey. I’m excited to see where I go from here.
Thank you to my wonderful teacher Corrine for teaching us with so much love and devotion. Corrine teaches yoga in the Nottingham / Newark area, you can find more about her lessons here.