I have just entered into the 40s…
And it’s really crazy that I am healthier and more alive now than I was in my 20s.
I don’t generally like to share photos of myself. I don’t think I’m particularly interesting, and like so many others, I dislike seeing myself in photos. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to get attention “oh look at me” either.
For all my life, I’ve just been doing my thing mainly at my own privacy. Never really been exceedingly good at anything in particular, never achieved anything worth going on about. Just an average person (if a little weird) doing what I love.
But as I’ve been teaching Yoga over the past years, I have seen something that really bothers me: People lack self-belief.
And that makes me want to talk about my own journey.
Most people don’t know my history.
I wasn’t always like this. I couldn’t throw my legs up in the air or get in the wheel pose. No way. In my early 20s I was overweight, I smoked and I drank loads of alcohol. I didn’t do much else. I certainly didn’t exercise.
Then at some point I started to run. I think it was late 2006 when I first realised the reason I was fat and I hated myself is because I didn’t do anything about it. And it was actually my dog at the time, Ozzy, that made me realise that I could find joy in movement.
Funny how dogs in my life have always taught me the most important things about life.
So I just started to run. And I really could just about manage between two lamp posts at first. And it was really hard. I remember not being able to breathe. I remember not believing it could get any better. But I kept doing it, and doing it, and doing it. I remember running my first ever 5km without stopping. I could hardly believe it. The joy of it was just incredible. By then I had already dropped most of my excess weight. And just for info if you’re a woman and if you’ve never done it and consider starting running, it’s the ass and the boobs that you’ll lose first. You may not lose much weight on the scale because muscle mass takes over the weight of the fat, but be prepared to have to buy some new clothes!
I ran religiously from 2006 until 2013. I completed 5 marathons. I ran several half-marathons and numerous 10ks.
And by then I had got the taste for exercise so as my hunger for other kinds of exercise grew bigger, the running slowly faded to the background. It was still there but just as a filler rather than the main thing. I did all sorts of things. And I even studied to become a PT.
But something was still not quite right in my body. No matter how much I exercised or how I trained for strength and flexibility, I always had restrictions, some pain and lack of mobility. Workouts felt hard almost all the time. My aerobic fitness was superb but my body was still restricted. I didn’t pay much attention to that simply because I thought it was supposed to be that way. Working out was supposed to be hard.
And it wasn’t until an injury to my back, that I found yoga.
And I am not making it up, it just opened up a world that I didn’t know existed. In the beginning I could not bend in any direction. Despite all the strength training and variety of exercise I still lacked control in my muscles, balance and mobility. So I slowly transitioned from what I had known as exercise to the unknown territory of Yoga where I truly got to challenge all my restrictions one by one, my innermost fears and most of all, the possibility of letting go of being in control of my workouts, or even my life.
The hardest part has been to face my mind: Over the years it has been telling me yoga isn’t enough. That I should do more. I should lift weights. I should do more cardio. I should work harder. I should still include something else. I mean I walk a lot and jog at times and I work out for strength, but that’s in a form of power yoga. But still. My mind only knows the old way. And it kept trying to push me back. And I tried many times. I just didn’t get anything beneficial out of it.
Last autumn I took part in Tough Viking obstacle race, sort of randomly. I was terrified because I hadn’t done any training. I was very doubtful that I could get through this 10 km race with something like 20 hard obstacles in it. But it was a fantastic test for me. Because I found that I could do it. Not only that I was able to jog through it but also, how many of the obstacles felt easy because I had the mobility to go under some barriers or lift myself up over others. I completed it with no specific training, only yoga and some walking. I didn’t finish at the fastest time, but nevertheless, it wasn’t even as hard as I thought it would be. I was absolutely stunned. It really put my mind to the background. I realised how much Yoga has given me. Not only physically but mentally as well.
And I must be honest here. I have had a great advantage in all of this mental practise because in 2013 I discovered Human Design which gave me exactly what was needed to learn to let go of believing my thoughts, and allow my body to make decisions.
So as I have watched and listened my yoga students talk about not being able to do this or that thing, I felt driven to share my story. Honestly, your body can change more than you can ever imagine. You will be able to do all kinds of unbelievable things. The only thing that is stopping you is believing your own mind, the mind that might keep telling you can’t do this or that, the mind that keeps you from practising, the mind that gives up because it doesn’t work for the first or the second time round. The mind that puts everyone else before you because you don’t think you’re good enough, the mind that thinks that you have to somehow EARN time for yourself, your self-care, by dashing your energy somewhere else than the very thing that is going to help you: for your own practise, physical and mental. Because if you can’t let go of the mind controlling your life, you’ll never discover the freedom in your body. If you can’t take the time and energy and give it yourself first, nobody is going to do it for you. You can have hundreds of excuses. But it’s all the same old story. And what ever it is that you keep telling yourself is the very thing that stops you from growing.
Love yourself first.
And if you don’t know how, the first step is to allow yourself to be what you are right now. Notice what keeps you from accepting what you are right now.
Because if you don’t allow, and you don’t accept, you can’t love yourself enough to put yourself first.
Everything that could be possible for you, will just remain locked away, exists only in a dream, in the dark corners of the very mind that keeps you away from your true freedom.
Would you like to take a breath?
Just one deep breath right now.
Is it time to change your mind?
Because YOU are SO worth it.