Karen has kindly shared her journey to finding peace and clarity with yoga and where this led her.
I started when I was in my late teens (I’m now in my late fifties) by keeping my Mum company at evening classes. It was very “radical” back in the 70’s as was vegetarianism. I dabbled a bit in both and I felt a connection then, but then the 80’s got in the way (I worked in an American bank), followed by the 90’s (I had my two sons). I’ve always been very health conscious and tried all forms of fashionable exercise – step aerobics, swim aerobics, running, skipping, Jane Fonda, Rosemary Conley, toning tables, gym (3 times a week and still had bingo wings!) et al; but hated every single minute of them all. I thought it was just me as everyone else seemed to rave about them and how great it made them feel. I just didn’t feel the connection so I got a couple of dogs instead and enjoyed walking them twice a day. Dogs don’t care about “Bingo” wings.
Fast forward to five years ago; still walking my dogs and without realising it connecting with my mind. I did a lot of my thinking whilst walking and still do. Unexpectedly, my wonderful Mum, my best friend, died and I was left with my bereft Dad, my brother who has cerebral palsy, my own family and a head like a snow globe taking on everyone’s grief and not dealing with mine. I still walked the dogs, lost the connection and couldn’t care less about a connection – what was that? Grief and depression took over and the snow in my snow globe head became wilder. I had counselling with CRUSE Bereavement Care (amazing), started to learn to accept my loss, walked the dogs and started Pilates which I liked for the exercise, it was keeping me fit and socialised, but still no mind connection.
Two years ago, after a very short illness, which we knew about, my lovely Dad followed my Mum and the snow started up again, not quite as fierce as before, but still blowing randomly about and enough to upset my very delicate emotional balance.
However, during the time of my Dad’s illness, we spent hours sitting together, talking and just “connected” in silence as there were no words to describe the way either of us was feeling. The silent connection we had during Dad’s last 3 months when he couldn’t move, but his mind was really active, became a huge light bulb moment after he had died and this is how I started returning to my yoga.
My dad who couldn’t move quickly, but by mindfully thinking about where he was moving his feet and seeing himself moving his feet, found that he could move very slowly around his bungalow. Click on went one light for me. Another one clicked on when he used to sit in his chair looking out of his window and commented, “I can take myself anywhere in this chair; in my head, you don’t need to take me to places – it’s all here (pointing to his head).”
So, I walked the dogs and felt a connection with my walking and my thinking and “wouldn’t it be great if I could find something that helped me keep the connection longer than my hour a day and would keep the snow globe from flurrying about”. I know, Yoga!
I re-started my practice with Chillout Yoga close by my home and my wonderful teacher Brenda showed me how to connect the moving of my body with the chaos of my mind and bring them together by the connection of the breath, but in a gentle and sustainable way (even on my worst days). She has now become my mentor as I’m training with her to make my yoga work for me and I’m hoping to offer Yoga as a teacher. My specific interest is the mind-body-breath connection and I’m finding out that I love feet and just how important they are to our connection to the ground we walk on. You can even practice Yoga in a chair. There are no excuses.
Finally, although the snow globe still flutters I shall be ready for it if and when it turns into a blizzard again, although I’m hopeful it won’t; through Yoga and Meditation I feel that I can choose to control it rather than it control me. I am hoping to set up my own yoga practice to share this especially with people that might think yoga won’t help them or may not feel that they are ready for a class quite yet. It is called “Yoja” (after my Dad and Mum – John and Ann and in the last month, unfortunately, my best friend Jane who has just joined them).
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