As cliché as it may sound, I believe that everything in our life happens for a reason. This thought resonates strongly through my life – be it a negative or positive situation, I have always believed that it is happening for a reason and the practice of Yoga has helped me embrace the truth that highs and lows are all part of life. Life does not stop and start at any particular point, it is a continuous journey and one has to flow through life, just like how you flow in your yoga practice!
Dancing has been my first love. I have been practicing since childhood and now after 10 years, I still continue practicing in styles such as musical theatre and contemporary lyrical movement. Dancing remains a huge part of my life. It gives me immense joy to perform in dance shows and to socialise with the dancing community off the dance floor. Dancing also inspired me to take up yoga. I had first started my yoga practice to gain more flexibility and strength in my dancing.
Acceptance and commitment
I practiced yoga on and off, in different studios across my city, Liverpool. At around this time, sudden changes were also shaping my perspective towards life that lead to yoga becoming a much bigger part of my life. I will spare you every detail, but you can imagine what a heartbreak can do to you! My relationship had come to an abrupt end. But the practice gave me the courage to accept the reality, which did seem pretty bad…but soon I realised that it was a blessing in disguise.
I think acceptance is the most powerful lesson we learn in our yoga journey. It takes courage to accept where we are and who we are, right here and right now. This does not mean things will stay like this forever or we start expecting it to be this way or that. We can find peace and build our lives around the present.
“Today I will live in acceptance rather than expectation.”
Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, through the self, to the self. My yoga journey has a long way to go. Currently I am practicing yoga as a student, learning from incredibly inspiring teachers here in the heart of Liverpool. This is my present in which I am committed to learn with an intention to travel the world teaching yoga, and promoting health and happiness. Acceptance has taught me to live in the present and commitment to my practice inspires me to live my dream everyday.
The path to love
To me the path of yoga is the path leading to love. I had read about the wonderful effects of yoga on the mind, body and soul. It is something that is extensively discussed across various platforms. But I think that until you truly dedicate time to connect with your breath, you do not really experience the magic of yoga. It does have the potential to completely transform you physically and mentally.
I realised this when I had enrolled for a 4 week intensive training course in Prana Vashya series under the guidance of an amazing teacher. I would wake up at 5 am each morning and practice for 1 to 2 hours daily. This style of yoga is deep rooted in pranayama and asana relationship, and the fact that the asana follows the breath and not the other way around if done with full awareness.
My heart was instantly captured and my drive to progress in my practice began. The regular practice of yoga allowed my mind to be free from worries and preset notions. Day by day I was improving, evolving and changing. I was moving away from the negative thoughts by simply becoming aware of them and letting them go. This allowed me to see the brighter side where love wasn’t the cause of hurt or pain but the strength to forgive and move on. I found love within and this saved me.
“Mastery of yoga is really measured by how it influences our day-to-day living, how it enhances our relationships, how it promotes clarity and peace of mind.” – T. K. V. Desikachar
The yoga practice continues to act as a tool to release what no longer serves me. It is a tool to reach optimum happiness by quieting the mind and disconnecting from mindless thinking which takes me away from who I really am. The practice brings me back to breath awareness and helps me connect with the inner self. .
Adapting the yogic lifestyle
Compassion for oneself and compassion for others are integral part of yoga philosophy. The yoga practice helps experience this deep within by helping us open and expand our mind and heart. My regular practice is one of the reasons that influenced my transition to a plant based vegan lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle because to me it is so much more than just a diet.
I am vegan for the future of my children, for all beings and for the planet. I want the future to experience clear ocean water filled with beautiful fishes, breathe fresh air, have green trees to climb on and see animals that reveal the wonders of evolution. I believe that the animals are on this planet WITH US, NOT FOR US. For me Yoga and a vegan lifestyle go hand in hand with one another.
“When you practice Nonviolence you practice Yoga.”
The transition wasn’t tough for me as I was raised vegetarian from birth, which was a little unusual and also challenging in a society that predominantly relied on a non-vegetarian diet. Now, UK supermarkets and eateries have many more options for the vegetarian and vegan, which is amazing! However, when I was growing up we had very few options to eat out in restaurants or shop in supermarkets. Despite this my wonderful parents chose to follow a vegetarian lifestyle for good health, for animals and the planet at large and also raised my sister and I as vegetarians.
As I grew older I was never really tempted to try meat, though most of my friends did! I loved my delicious healthy vegetarian food and feel lucky to receive education on whole food cooking. One of my passion is the know-how of a healthy diet that is required to fuel the body with right nutrients. More in- depth research into veganism awakened something within my mind and soul. I knew it was what I needed to do to maintain a healthy body and mind along with my yoga practice.
Counting my blessings
I’ve been so lucky to have met such inspiring, like minded people throughout my yoga journey. So many positive people have been brought into my life through yoga right when I needed them the most, uplifting and encouraging me in my practice and life.
“Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. “- Paulo Coelho
I’ve been so blessed to have crossed paths with one individual in particular who has transformed my entire world! It’s amazing to think how yoga brought us together. It helped us determine the course of our destiny and destiny got us together. Such a beautiful relationship has blossomed. He also follows a vegan lifestyle and supports me and inspires me on that path. What attracts me most is how much he cares for animals and devotes his time in saving them.
We are now both flowing through life together and exploring various styles of Yoga. Together we attend classes on Ashtanga, Yin, Hatha and Prana Vashya yoga styles. Soon, we are planning our travels to India to complete our yoga teacher training course! I am really looking forward to completing my TTC. My ultimate goal is to pursue a career in teaching yoga. We would also love to share our passion and knowledge on vegan nutrition and yogic lifestyle to inspire others and help them recognise the power within themselves to take their health into their own hands.
“Through practice comes Yoga,Through Yoga comes knowledge, Through knowledge love, and Through love bliss.” – Swami Vivekananda
If you are interested in pursuing a Yoga TTC, my advice would be to explore the various forms of Yoga and dedicate much time for your daily practice. At the moment, Ashtanga is my most preferred style of yoga practice because it challenges me and helps me grow and improve in my physical practice. It also allows me to escape to another place – where it’s just me and my mat. I would love to teach this style of yoga in the years to come.
Having said that, it is important to embrace the philosophy as much as it is important to practice. Currently I am writing blog posts to promote a positive plant based diet and share tips on a happy, healthy lifestyle. The biggest joy in becoming a Yogi is embracing the journey to Zion and living each day with a sense of gratitude and compassion towards oneself and others.
Rebecca Foulkes, Liverpool, UK
Yogini, Blogger https://rebeccarose.blog