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“At a time when I needed its support the most I wasn’t open to receiving it”

In March 2020, a month etched into our collective memories, I found myself navigating the usual lows (financial worries, the ache of missing loved ones, uncertainty for the future), and the highs (newfound pastimes, a slower pace of life). I was between freelance contracts so the looming question of when my next payday would be added weight to an already challenging time.

Yoga was my anchor in this turbulent time. Beyond the physical benefits, it was a practice that kept me connected to myself, helped me to manage my stress and process deep emotions. As the world locked down, I found solace in my daily practice, a precious routine that varied but never failed me. Teaching online gently encouraged me to continue exploring, growing, and sharing my practice with sensitivity.

Then somehow, just like that, I lost it. A heartbreaking bereavement, a series of house moves, a new addition to the family (in the shape of a high-energy German Shepherd puppy!), and the demands of a new job all threw me off course. The loss of physical space, the extra squeeze on my time that came with new responsibilities, the fear of falling apart if I dug below the surface of some deep emotions that I wasn’t quite ready to face, and eventually the routine crumbled.

I didn’t even really acknowledge the loss until much later, when the toll on my mental health became undeniable. Snappiness with loved ones, heightened emotional reactions to simple challenges, low energy, low mood and a general sense of disinterest crept in. I had lost more than just a routine — I had lost a vital tool for maintaining my well-being.

It’s easy to see how it happened, and acknowledging its absence was a helpful step, but finding my way back to the practice was more of an intricate puzzle. Selling our house with nowhere to go and the ensuing nomadic lifestyle made it easy to justify not prioritising getting on my mat. The constant bouncing from air bnb to family members spare rooms left little room or time for it. I wasn’t in the right headspace either. Commitment to a regular yoga practice would’ve been really helpful during this unsettling time, but it was a total paradox. At a time when I needed its support the most, I wasn’t open to receiving it.

I had imagined that as soon as we moved and settled into a new home, I’d get straight back on my mat and pick up where I left off. But it didn’t happen quite like that. I think because I thought it had to be a certain way. Total quiet, a full hour, a streamlined sequence, I had to be in the right mood and have the right energy. I put too much pressure on myself for it to be just right.

The turning point came not through a return to physical asanas but through a rekindled curiosity and awareness sparked by my new rural surroundings. Mindful walks turned into a meditation. I discovered the beauty of nature and embraced the wonder of life in all its forms. Grounding activities and deeper community connections emerged as substitutes for the formal structure of my practice, and I remembered that that’s all yoga too!

Eventually, when I was ready, I began to get curious about the physical practice again. Teaching played a crucial role in this. I started teaching again as a way to get to know my neighbours and connect more with the local community (where I didn’t know anybody!) Sharing the benefits of asana practice with others reminded me of its transformative power and encouraged me to practice again, not from a place of guilt or obligation, but from a point of devotion and dedication, and celebration of being in a body that can move and feel good.

The lesson I took from it is one I now share with my students: "The hardest part of class today is showing up." It's a simple rule for my daily practice; I just have to get on my mat. No elaborate plans, no grand expectations, just the commitment to show up. Even if I just sit staring into space for 10 mins, that’s creating space to ‘be’, and it still counts.

I’m sure there will be times in the future when life gets in the way and I’ll slip away from the practice again, but I know now that I will always find my way back, even if it looks really different to the previous version.

I’m so pleased to have found my way back to the practice again, and am grateful to be enjoying its strength, wisdom and new energy it brings me each day.

There will be bumps in the road, routines will falter, but my yoga mat and the lessons I’ve learned from the practice will always be there patiently waiting for me to rediscover them. The essence lies in my commitment to return, and remain open to receive.

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