I was first introduced to yoga through the persistent encouragement of my mum. During my second year of university whilst existing in my little world of chaotic thoughts and emotions, having acknowledged but not acted upon my mum's continual suggestion to give it a go and see how it made me feel, I finally decided to introduce yoga to my weekly routine and signed up to an 8-week yoga beginners class. However beneficial this was to me at the time, I recognise now that because it wasn't something that came from my inner drive to pursue, once the 8 weeks were over it didn't take long for me to let my practice go.
It wasn't until I began my third year of university that I really began to take an interest in yoga and how it could help me both physically and mentally. I joined the university yoga society and started attending classes held at my gym. The uni held several classes per week, at varying times and days with different teachers all adopting their own approach to yoga. In this way I was able to fit it around my schedule as well as being given the opportunity to be very flexible with my practice. Having previously not been aware that so many different forms of yoga existed this really began to excite me and made me want to learn more. I began practising yoga myself at home - building up a daily routine from what I was picking up at classes as well as what I was learning through my own research.
This transition of recognising the value that yoga had in my life occurred at a time where my physical body was weakened and unable to keep up with the demands of my mind to want to keep active. I had lost touch with the connection between my mind and body and I was driving myself to burnout. Engaging in long hours of monotonous physical activity at the gym had become a form of distraction to me - a way to block out my thoughts. I hadn't considered that movement could be a way to calm my thoughts and feelings, that it would give me the chance to recognise and explore them or to let them go, and that I had the choice of what to do with them. It wasn't as simple as just blocking them for that short period of time. In that way, physical activity didn't have to be a temporary relief but rather something that allowed me to understand myself and to move forward. Practising yoga presented me with the opportunity to begin to appreciate the complexity of the human body and how interconnected everything is. I recognised rest and balance as being equally important as it is to challenge ourselves and keep active. I began to listen to my body and only then it became apparent to me how powerful my perception and approach to the use of physical activity was in finding connection between my mind and body.
Yoga has helped me and continues to help me develop into a stronger person, both physically and mentally. I have watched my body heal and regain it's strength. It allows me to better explore and appreciate the sensations I experience when doing other forms of physical activity, particularly running. I am able to reconnect with my mind through feelings of calmness, fresh energy and flow. I now practice yoga most days with a drive to challenge my flexibility and strength, to enjoy the sense of mindfulness it brings me and to embrace the feelings of being grounded and centered in my day.
A favourite spot to catch the sunset, look out toward Ynys Enlli or enjoy the sensory experience of practising mindful yoga outside.
Uwchmynydd, Pen Llyn.