How Yoga Taught Me To Love Who I Am

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At the time I began yoga my life was ‘out of balance’ and I was in personal crisis. I am a person who struggles day to day with negative thought processes and stress management. Sometimes I can be a perfectionist and  feel insecure with a deep lack of self-love.

Yoga instantly helped me to feel better during that time of stress, through actually taking conscious breaths and moving my body and disconnecting from those negative thoughts I just could not be rid of. For the first time, I experienced the joyous feeling of breathing life giving oxygen into my body.

I spent most of my teenage years in this state of unconsciousness and yoga was the first step in my journey to understand there was another way to be. I feel I still have such a long way to go but now I have some of the tools to help myself become grounded again when those old thought patterns return. It helps me to see the world in a different way, to shift my perspective to one grounded in love and compassion for others, and especially for myself.

To me, Yoga is becoming more aware of who I am.

It is holistic wellness for the body, mind and spirit. It means so much to me and I feel so grateful to have found it when I did.

In discovered yoga in 2012, while studying at university. During this time, I have experienced many different styles of yoga. I practice Hatha and Vinyasa flow as my main practice at home and in classes. I have also practiced Yin Yoga, Power Yoga and have had exposure to Kundalini over the course of the last 5 years. For me, yoga is an essential part of my everyday life. It is a necessity for my daily practise and something that makes me who I am.

My spiritual practice begins with all the little rituals in my day. Each morning I take 5-10 deep breaths before I get out of bed. I send love and light to myself, my womb, or any part of body I feel needs healing. I often practice 5 minutes of yoga in the morning, just stretching and movement to wake up my body and spirit for the day ahead.

A part of my spiritual practice is the food I choose to eat.

I adopted a plant-based diet 3 years ago and I have not looked back. I feel lighter and far more connected to our Earth Mother, Papatūānuku knowing that the food I eat has not harmed another living being.

Physically, yoga has helped me to grow stronger, improve my flexibility and balance. I feel a much stronger connection to my body after I have practiced and my body tells me when I need to practice again. The physical benefits of my practice have been immense but I believe that I am still at the beginning of how I experience my yoga practise and am ready to go further.

I am learning to breathe through my own discomfort and to move past expectations and suffering to find a deeper practice that is guided by presence and compassion.

Mentally, yoga has given me the power to let go. As a primary school teacher, I spend a lot of my time inside my head, planning, thinking and organising. My yoga practice allows me to shed the thoughts in my head and return back to my body. I meditate in times of happiness, indecision or struggle and it always grounds me. Yoga helps me to come back to myself and find a sense clarity. I have found that yoga practice and meditation often provides me with a different perspective on situations in my life.

Now I can choose to disconnect from the old thought patterns and see things through new eyes and a clear mind, often resulting in perceived ‘problems’ dissolving away. I have gained more understanding of how my mind works and can detach from the stresses of life to find a sense of calm and presence in everyday life.

Spiritually, yoga has provided the grounding for spiritual practice which I had not experienced before. It opened the door to connecting with my inner self, my true self. I have since begun regularly meditating. My yoga is a way I find that place of peace and I can just be. It could be as simple of waking up and breathing deeply while reaching up to the sky.

I am grounded again and can face the day ahead. 

- Hera, Aotearoa