Updated: Feb 23
Yoga has opened up a whole new path for me, having spent ten years in a professional dance industry, yoga is like a fresh breath of air!
Dance is & always has been a great passion of mine but through yoga I became more aware of the physical and mental strain dancers and performers put themselves under to obtain their dream job. Yet i know so many, myself included who still felt unhappy when they achieved what they had worked so hard to get! Something shifted for me when i actually started to enjoy my part time "muggle" job more than auditioning for dance work. This was probably due to the fact i got the opportunity to go to yoga & i was surrounded by lovely, happy, positive people everyday!
"Yoga is an Effortless Dance Between Breath & Gravity"
I remember entering my first yoga class. It was in London at a studio called "Another Space" it felt like such a luxury & I wouldn't of been able to afford to go there if i hadn't been provided with a class pass. The studio itself was gorgeous, sleek, modern & clean. At reception i was devoted a set mat space, equipment & i had time prior to class to sit on my mat, nice and warm in the heated room to be left with my thoughts & wonder if i'd be any good at it. Dance studios weren't like this, normally it was just a lot of rushing around, judgemental looks whilst your squashed into a room full of sweaty (yet very glamorous) determined individuals.
Soon the teacher entered, he was friendly & a face i recognised from working at Lululemon, so that was reassuring. Gentle music started playing, the blinds slowly lowered & we were advised to lie down. So straight away this felt a bit weird & i led there forcing my eyes closed wondering, "whats happening?", "am i the only one still led down?" & "is this it?" We were guided through a short "grounding" sequence where we focused on our breath. I'd never really been aware of my breath before but soon enough i found that my breath was super high in my chest & quite shallow so to breathe into my belly was difficult especially after being trained to hold it in tight for so many years.
The best bit initially for me was the movement, it was a vinyasa flow class so some of it was really challenging & completely new to me. I remember trying really hard to achieve the shapes & wondered if the teacher thought i was any good at it.
I soon started to notice things weren't the same here as in a dance class. When we were in three legged dog & i was lifting my leg as high as i could towards the ceiling. The teacher came over and gently guided my leg down & rotated my hip down towards the floor. My initial was reaction was "ewww this must look so ugly", 'my leg can go way higher than this!" (My normality was to get your leg higher or it just wasn't good enough) It felt completely different to me & strange not to push my leg & hip to the extreme like in the photo here.
Another reality check was in a pose (asana) called extended side angle, there were many various options given & other people around had opted to take a different variation, "binds". Naturally i went to try it but i was working with a hip injury at the time & it didn't feel nice but i still managed it. I remember the teacher saying "if it doesn't feel right to you today don't do it" or something along those lines & in that moment it made me become more aware of what i was doing & that my hip wasn't happy. I stayed there non-the less. (My normality was to get your leg higher or it just wasn't good enough) It felt completely different to me & strange not to push my leg & hip to the extreme.
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender-between pushing and letting go-and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.”
The end of the class, which i now know is "savasana". We were once again advised to lie down & it felt like a lifetime! I think it was only around 3 minutes, my mind was chattering away, looking forward to using the fancy showers after & planning my lunch before i started work. But it did feel really good to just be still, to allow my body to relax & i felt happy being in this new calming environment. The showers were lovely & i left for Marks & Spencers to grab myself a prawn salad before heading to Lululemon for my afternoon shift.
But from then on, i couldn't get off the mat! I tried many different studios, some not as sleek as others but non-the less they had that welcoming, friendly & calming atmosphere. For each yoga class i did, i did one less dance class. The contrast between them was unbelievable, the atmosphere, the pressure & it was that feeling after. I always left my yoga class feeling good & happy within myself!
Eventually i stopped dancing as a career and after my 200Hr Teaching Training here i am teaching yoga with my studio based in Clitheroe, Lancashire. Created with the intention to have "my first class' feeling in mind, the welcoming, friendly atmosphere & that sense of luxury & calm.
Through yoga I've learnt that my mind is constantly active & that it's important for me to make time to un-plug. That my body is able but I need to listen to it more, take it gentle as there's no competition on the mat. Most importantly yoga is a journey, everything takes time and it's okay if i'm never be able to do a chin stand, but its not all about the shapes. Savasana is now something i look forward too, 5 minutes flies by & i'm starting to lean towards slower paced styles of yoga like Yin, where you can really start to log out but thats a whole other blog post!
I hope you too can find this sense of freedom from your normality even if it is just for that one hour of your day on your mat. The lessons you take off your mat can adjust your outlook on life in so many ways.
Dance is still a passion but yoga is my new habitual lifestyle.
“Yoga is not to be performed yoga is to be lived”
If you'd love to start your yoga journey & feel you need some direction why not check out my Beginners Course HERE!