Did you ever have a moment in time where you just wished you could stop, pause, rewind or maybe start all over again? I did. It happened when I hit rock bottom with an atomic bang and I learnt the truth behind the expression “when you reach the bottom the only way you can go is up”!
I’m telling you my story so that you may realize no matter what, no matter how bad or how dark your life becomes, with the right mentality, a fighting spirit and with tools to cope (which in my case were clothes, high heels, copious amounts of fake tan and not forgetting the miracle worker – hair colour!!) you too can climb back out of the dark pit of depression and despair and take back control of your life. I did this with the aid of my most important tools, YOGA and REIKI.
My story begins at the age of 37 when my Dad passed away in the early hours of Wednesday 16th February, 2005. The days and hours leading up to his untimely death from cancer are banked memories, stored forever in absolute perfect clarity. They say when you watch a parent die the impact on your life is like nothing else you will ever experience in your lifetime. It is so true. Nothing can prepare you for the raw emotions that you suffer. My Dad was my rock, my one constant guy whose love was unconditional, steadfast and true, my best friend, my hero. He was the supplier of humongous “bear hugs” which captured and targeted me at the core and made me realize instinctively that everything was going to be ok. Things however, in 2005 were no longer going to be ok, not in the normal sense anyway….
Initially I seemed to cope. I had a great support system of family & friends, but life as I knew it was slowly breaking down. Tiredness became insurmountable. Grief became a stabbing ache which never disappeared. Life started shattering into tiny pieces and began unraveling. Dad’s death made me realize the fragility and preciousness of life. I started to look at and question every single angle of my own, dreams I’d dreamed, achievements I hoped to realize which sadly had not manifested. What was my life about? I felt unworthy and inadequate. I travelled into a very dark place accompanied only by memories and emotions. Emotions which were now being spurred on by another outside force and these emotions appeared to have gained new levels of extremity overnight. I was unable to cope with the intensity of what it was I was feeling. I realize now with hindsight just how extremely vulnerable grief makes you. How trusting and how open you can become. At that time however, I remained blissfully unaware and I began to free fall through the next couple of years which were to ultimately become a living hell. I was taught a lot in this time by a number of people, some experiences were for my greater good, a lot sadly, were not.
I live by the belief that every person who touches your life brings with them a piece of a puzzle, they teach you a valuable lesson and the lessons you share become the stepping stones which allow you to grow and become a better person. These people teach you to live new experiences and to see the bigger picture of the meaning of your life. I learnt many lessons during this time, by one person in particular, but as I nose-dived out of control things for me were becoming unbearable. I was extremely emotional, my weight was now dropping at an alarming speed and sunken hollows appeared where blue eyes once resided. It was during this time that I recognized the need to “get away” from everything and everyone and to try and claim back some morsel of control over my life.
I had been practicing yoga for a number of years at this time so I decided to take it a stage further. My own yoga teacher encouraged me to contact YTI in Dublin. I looked into it and in September, 2007 I enrolled with YTI (Yoga Therapy Ireland) to train as a Yoga Teacher. YTI taught me the tools which were ultimately to save me. I learnt breathing techniques which allowed me to cope with my panic attacks (of which there were many!). I learnt meditation which grounded me and brought me back into the present moment. Postures gave me strength and stamina. As flexibility began to slowly creep back into my muscles tension began to dissipate. My para sympathetic nervous system was beginning to unwind from the fright, fight and flight response which I had locked into on my journey of destruction. What had initially become a means of escape were now slowly becoming my tools for survival. September, 2009 saw me graduating as a fully qualified YTI Yoga Instructor.
The college bug had taken hold and the following year I went back to college and qualified as a Pregnancy and Children’s Yoga Teacher. In 2010 I also set about becoming a Reiki Healer and today I am a fully qualified Reiki Master. I am still in college as I write this and enjoying my final year of Yoga Therapy with YTI. However, it was Children’s Yoga which brought a new dimension to my life, it injected much needed fun, laughter and free spirit back into what had become a mere burning ember. Life had slowly begun to turn a corner. Issues were still very prevalent and by no means sorted out but I was growing in confidence, learning to cope and taking back control of my life. I had stepped back from everything and everyone and I was slowly beginning to see the light and truth within certain people and circumstances.
Why did I choose Yoga? I could sit here and list all the wonderful reasons which are normally posted on web sites and published in magazines. The truth for me was simple, I needed to escape “my life”. Yoga was something I knew I had some knowledge of and I didn’t feel intimidated by it. I recognized that whilst I was doing yoga I simply forgot…. I forgot all the pain… I forgot all the hurt and anguish, real emotions which were blended in with grief making a lethal cocktail. I forgot the mess I created from my emotions……. I simply forgot…. and just for a little while, I experienced real peace and tranquility.
Whilst practicing yoga I was living in the moment without actually realizing it. I was free of emotional entanglements which had found their way back into my life. I was quite simply – free…. Yoga gave me another perspective a mechanism to cope with who and what I had become, without judgement, without condemnation, without the firing squad. It happened slowly. There were no major light bulb moments, it simply crept in under my skin and I just “felt” better when I was practicing yoga than when I wasn’t. Yoga became a way of being that I still continue to live by today.
Breath work: gave me the ability to relax and release months of tension I had built up within my body. I suffer from panic attacks when I am under extreme emotional stress and those attacks were becoming more and more frequent. To cap it off the one person who always managed to pacify me during those attacks was no longer around but now on a different more peaceful plane. The stress also meant I wasn’t sleeping properly either and I often survived on just 3 hours sleep a night. Through Yoga, breath work gave me the freedom and mechanism I needed to control my breath. I can now recognize the onset of an attack and I am able to use the breath to calm my nervous system and prevent an attack from happening. A calm body and mind also encouraged a sound night’s sleep.
Postures: gave me the ability to learn more about me and the way I work physically. I learnt how I held stress in my body, I learnt how to release that stress safely. I now recognize when something just doesn’t feel right and I make the necessary adjustments or it may mean simply walking away from an unhealthy situation. Postures gave me an inner strength that I felt I had long lost. It toned my physical body whilst soothing my spiritual one and it also gave me the strength to believe in myself and this I believe was to be my most powerful lesson.
I learnt the philosophy of yoga and I met like-minded people. I would ask you to have a good look at the people in your circle, the way they act, think and behave impacts directly onto your life and those around you. Is it a positive impact? Do these people make you feel good about yourself? If not, do you not owe it to yourself to step into your own power and create a positive, happy and healthy way of being? I decided I owed it to myself. Through yoga I met people who engaged in positive outlooks and thoughts. I met people who shrank away from all things negative, gossiping, envious ways of being, negative ways of looking at life and situations. I learnt to be more positive to appreciate life and the lessons I was learning. Why? Because as I learnt these lessons they were making me stronger and more independent than I had ever been before. I learnt no single person is perfect, we all make mistakes. Yogi’s embrace life and celebrate the achievements of others, they wish more blessings for them no matter who they are, what they’ve done or what race they belong to. Yoga became a positive powerful force in my life. In time I plan to list and describe some of my favorite postures and the benefits associated with practicing these Asana’s or postures so that you too may build your own inner strength.
Relaxation: became my best release, the work I had put in during the class was absorbed to a greater depth during relaxation and I especially love visual relaxations. Here I got lost and it was pure heaven… I particularly love imagining that I am an eagle in flight and the freedom of flying high above valleys and soaring over mountains brought enormous release, freedom, peace and tranquility to me during those moments. I will explore these relaxations as this page develops and perhaps you too may gain some benefit from them.
Meditation: has been left to last as this was and still remains my greatest challenge. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t sit and NOT think! I was a year into my course and I still hadn’t had a break through with this. The more I tried “not to think” the more I thought!! I am analytical by nature so this was a huge challenge for me personally. On a family holiday in 2008 I purchased a CD – Melodias Del Corazon, the title of the CD was “Alborada” (Native American Indian music) and I downloaded it to my iPod. In a fit of pure frustration one day at my inability to crack the meditation lark I took off to the beach. In pure temper I sat myself down at water’s edge, plugged my ear phones in and made a mental challenge to myself that no matter what, I wasn’t leaving until I had sat through one song, just ONE BLOODY SONG without itching, scratching, moving a dead leg or swatting a fly. I WAS going to master meditation in some form, God help me!! So, with pan pipes playing in my ears I sat, closed my eyes and breathed, but I almost combusted from the want to itch, move, swat and scream!! Except temper ruled out this day as I refused to move. I did it!!! Can you believe it? I actually did it!! Proving that mind really does conquer the body. This was to become my turning point as I then challenged myself and one song became two, two became three. As the holidays progressed I also began to use the power of the ocean to assist me. I began to breathe in the power and energy of the ocean, the freedom of her waves. My body began to relax, my mind began to let go and then words started coming into my head. So I breathed them in and I breathed them out. It nailed it for me personally and by the end of the two weeks I was spending 20 minutes lost in deep meditation and reaping the rewards of it both mentally and physically.
What were my words? Power was the first one. I knew instinctively that I did have the power. I had it within me to turn my life around, to rebuild, to survive, to stand tall and to make my life matter. I began to trust my body and I began to let go of the inhibitions and the fears, the words came. I used…. (breathing in…) I am powerful… (breathing out…) I am strong. I repeated this over and over again until it became a mantra, then I changed to (breathing in…) I am strong… (breathing out…) I am calm and again repeated it over and over again in mantra form. Other words were peace, love, freedom, strength and courage. I began to open myself up to trusting that my body would supply the words it needed. This has worked wonders for me and my chatter filled mind! I challenge you to try it, just trust yourself and trust your body.
I will admit there are days when I still struggle with life, its challenges and the people who bring me these challenges, I’m getting there slowly but surely. Life isn’t easy, but it’s something I’ve learnt – it isn’t easy for anyone, every single person is travelling their own private journey and they too struggle on their own personal path. Even with the knocks and there have been quite a few, I still look for the good in people. I look for the lesson in what I’m being taught. I get burnt, I get hurt but yoga has given me the ability to grow with these challenges to step back, look at the elements that cause me concern, study them and grow from them.
Yoga has empowered me greatly. It has helped me unleash my feminine energy and inner strength. More importantly yoga has freed me from my past! It has given me the desire to rewrite the pages of history and to make my life count, to make it matter, so much so that I have finally decided to do something about what makes me passionate as a person . What gives me passion? Yoga does. I could eat, sleep and drink yoga. So, I’ve set up All Round Yoga. I hope it will inspire you to have the belief in yourself, that no matter what knocks life or people throw at you, if you stay positive and hold the belief in yourself and how special you are, you too can change your life, make it matter and bring back passion to everyday living. Have the belief in yourself to go and follow your dreams. This is my story, my new dream, the beginnings of All Round Yoga.
All Round Yoga is created in gratitude to a certain group of people who have impacted my life and made all this possible – my family and friends. A very special debt of gratitude goes to my best friend, my husband Clement whom I put through the mill, but who continued to see the truth in people and situations even when I couldn’t. He showed immense strength of character, trust, patience and unconditional love by allowing me to discover the truth in my own creative way and who by doing so quite successfully filled my father’s shoes to become my new rock. I’ll quote Dad here and say Clem “ you’ve got Liathróidí ”. To my two living miracles and greatest blessings Kayleigh and Thomas, sitting watching you both for hours in peaceful slumber during the challenging days gave me reason and strength to fight my way back. I thank you both for your love and without you I know life just wouldn’t be the same. I offer a special thanks to my family, my Mum Pidgie , sisters Lisa and Antonia and my adopted brother Dan, for showing me the true meaning of love even in the midst of public gazing. You proved to me that blood really is thicker than water. I am blessed and grateful to have you in my life. However, an enormous special depth of gratitude goes to my friends, you all know who you are. You have stepped over the threshold of friendship and into the realm of my family. For the time you spent with me, each of you in your own special way doing your own exceptional thing. For the slack you took over being my friend and standing by me. For protecting me, guiding me but most importantly allowing me to find my own way back and see the truth without condemnation. For assisting me in breaking free of my past. This web page is dedicated to all of you, for the light each of you shone personally into my life in your generous acts of kindness and understanding especially in the very dark days. I thank you all most sincerely as you have helped chisel me into the person I am this day and that is something I will never forget.
This is my journey, I don’t know where it’s going to lead but I’m open to embracing all that it brings. I would love company on this journey so to those of you who make your way to my page, I say welcome and Namaste. We are all equals here. Please feel free to interact and to converse with me. Who knows, maybe this will become “our” story.
Om shanti (Peace).
Yoga weekend retreats and yoga holidays all year round suitable for complete beginners to advanced. Guided outings in the Burren hills and by the sea and amazing vegetarian food.