Recently I have been reminded of three important lessons to live by;
- It is worth the effort.
- Breathing is everything.
- Say yes to things that challenge you.
I love to walk along the canal as often as I am able. It’s one of my favourite things to do, and when I do it, I smile with every cell in my body. When I am heading into town, I try to allow a little longer, so that I can at least skip along the canal and at least jump on the tube a couple of stops further along the line.
When I walk I feel like I radiate sunshine sometimes, it’s as if my soul is drinking from the elixir of life. When I pass people, I often smile and say; ‘hello’. On one particular occasion recently, I was doing this very thing, at first not really conscious of what I was doing. Suddenly I became aware that the more people I passed, and the more eyes and souls I came into contact with, the more I saw a common theme in the eyes that met mine. After the initial surprise of being spoken to (it doesn’t always happen in big cities), what was left with a look of thankfulness, gratitude for having been seen, and gratitude for having been met with love.
I spent the first seven years of my life in the North of England, and this sort of practice is just what we do there. But it struck me in that moment that this was abundantly rare for these people.
Continuing my theme of connection at the moment, I saw just how much my connection could bring to others, in an incredibly small but real life way.
In the wonderful way that the Universe unfolds, I found myself at a charity yoga event hosted by Lululemon one evening the very same week, to celebrate the work of the Africa Yoga Project.
There we heard from the founder, Paige Elenson, who told us her ridiculously inspiring story that led her to founding this amazing organisation that teaches people to teach yoga across Africa; 250 teachers and rising. Paige is the person who reminded me of the three important lessons to live by.
The event started with a short film and as it opened the presenter made a comment that someone had asked him why they were bothering, and that ‘Africa needs a lot of things more than it needs yoga’. But you know what; it might need a ton of other things, but it definitely needs yoga too, and absolutely needs all the elements that come along with it.
Yoga as a platform for people to work themselves out of poverty through teaching, but even more so, yoga to provide a means of connection to our higher being, and to ultimately heal whatever it is you might need to heal to move forward in positive momentum.
I can’t even begin to imagine the lives the people in the video have led and what they have experienced, but I can feel how I’ve healed my own through the many different ways that I’ve been learning to connect to myself and in turn, to others.
After the film we all practiced together, a heart expanding connective practice, where we hugged, tickled one another, held hands to balance and generally supported one another in practice. We finished with back to back seated meditation, largely with people we’d never met before. It was stunning.
I recently realised that I’ve actually been becoming a yogi for a long time before actually stepping onto a yoga mat. In how I live, in how I eat, in how I treat others and most importantly; how I treat and regard myself. I had no idea all of it was ‘yoga’. I just did what felt right for me, which has meant that I’ve lived and practiced various forms of yoga over the past few years, just not physically and spiritually up until the past two, when I fell in love with yoga practice in its entirety.
The movement based asanas have given me a sense of personal freedom, of joy, of physical expression. They’ve awoken the playful goon in me that loves nothing more than spending the day trying to balance on my hands. Play through various forms of movement. And it’s so worth the effort. All of it.
The spiritual practice has happened on and off the mat, but largely through my deepening connection to myself, supported by the hands on healing work, coaching and incredible meditation practice I have learnt with Sara Williams at Spherical Living. Meditation has become a daily practice for me and my journey to stillness continues. At the heart of everything I truly am is my breath.
I have begun studying yoga as an art form, with the hope of sharing so much of the wonderfulness I have learnt, both on and off the mat, with others. People have been saying to me for a while that I would make a great teacher, but it took me a little while to talk myself into saying yes, and to take on the challenge of learning something new.
I have only been able to heal, because I have learnt the tools to heal myself. We can’t heal others, we can only support with love, and give them the space to learn and grow. No one could have walked this path for me or made it any easier. Only me. So my step on this path is one that will afford me the opportunity to offer others some new tools for their own toolboxes. I said yes. To all of it.
So you see this post is about so much more than yoga. It’s a reminder to all of us that everything we do is worth the best of us, it’s ALL worth the effort. And that by connecting to ourselves, our breath and our truth, that is the glue connects us to everything.
From that place of connection we have so much more space within us to support and love the people we interact with, the same space that will, in turn, also enable us to allow them the space they need to be who they truly are and where they truly need to be on their own journeys.
So make the effort. Breathe. And say yes.
To find out more about supporting the brilliant work of the Africa Yoga Project please take a moment to read a little more about them here.