by Ceara Copps-Edwards
I started practising yoga a couple years ago after recovering from a past of yo-yo and crash dieting. I was out of shape, easily out of breath and couldn’t imagine myself holding any yoga pose for more than a couple of seconds. Despite how out of shape I was, I knew I needed a change. I was desperate to evoke a transformation within myself in order to allow myself to heal from and overcome my past.
So I came to yoga
I tried yoga for the first time one morning in the comfort of my small student apartment. At that time I did not even have a proper mat. It was only me, a YouTube Video and a makeshift-towel-mat. I panted, shook and sweat my uncoordinated self through that first practice, holding some poses for only a couple seconds and falling out of most poses more than once.
I tried to make sense of the new poses, the Sanskrit and how anybody could ever hold Downward Dog for that long without their arms falling off. I was a stark contrast to the fit yoga instructor in the video who held the poses with such ease and grace (and without breaking a sweat). By the end of my first practice, to be honest, I hurt and I was drenched in sweat but something had changed within me and I knew that I had to come this place again.
So the next day, with a bright, new yoga mat, (it only takes one yoga practice to realise a towel on a hardwood floor does not make for a comfortable mat – ouch)
The first few times I practised yoga I still could hardly make it through the entire session. But I persisted, with a firm sense of determination combined with joy that I, the uncoordinated wannabe yogi, made it through my first few practices.
I quickly fell in love with yoga. The time I spent doing yoga allowed me to check in with myself in the midst of my busy days of working two jobs and being a full-time student. I found comfort knowing I could always find peace by coming back to my mat and renewing my practice.
The simplicity of focusing on the moment and my breath helped me to:
- Heal from my past of disordered eating
- Get stronger both physically and mentally
- Deal with the everyday stresses of life by finding peace in myself and the world around me.
And that is how it started…
I kept on going and it did not take long until yoga became part of my regular routine. I began practising daily in my bedroom before class – determined to take some time every day to touch base with my inner being. And with time, I felt my body and mind getting stronger and my endurance increasing as I moved through the poses. I was finally allowing myself to heal by focusing on my breath and the moment. I was overjoyed by the positive changes yoga was evoking within me.
My life before and after yoga
Long story short, yoga makes me feel all kinds of amazing. I truly believe that if yoga was a magic fix everybody would be taking it – seriously. In my life before yoga, I was easily irritated, letting myself get annoyed at little things and stressing myself to no end about things outside of my control. These little annoyances would foster themselves in different places in my life. I found myself coming home from work and school feeling beaten down by the day, allowing myself to escape to a place where I mindlessly ate my problems away, not knowing any better way to deal with them.
And then I came to yoga. After a few weeks, I noticed the ‘little things’ that used to stress me out and all the bits of life outside of my control not bothering me in the same way that they did before. I started living and breathing yoga in my everyday life. I began coming home to my mat, putting the world in focus, and checking in with my mind and body instead of with the latest bucket of chocolate ice cream stored away in my freezer for ‘emergency purposes’.
Little did I know the first time I stepped on my makeshift mat that yoga would have such a great impact on my life.
Returning to my mat again and again
The key to me continually feeling this way lies in me coming back again and again to my breath, to my mat, and to yoga. Taking time for myself to unwind despite my ‘busy’ schedule and living in the midst of a world that craves busyness and ongoing action.
Since starting my yoga practice that fateful morning, life – as life always does – has gotten increasingly busy and in the past couple months, between school, work and everything else, I slowly found myself moving away from my practice, letting the daily stresses of life get in the way between myself and my mat.
When I saw the EkhartYoga September Yoga Month Challenge I knew it was just what I needed to in order to get back on track and nurture my inner and outer self. I needed it in order to find time for myself throughout the week despite starting back at school and work as a graduate student. I needed it in order to re-establish the deep connection I made with myself at the beginning of my yoga journey. I needed it in order to reignite the amazing feeling and light yoga brings to my life.
So I came back to my mat
And with this, I came back to myself. I re-established and deepened my mind-body connection that I had made with myself that very first day I sweat and shook through my first yoga session. I focused on my breath, the movement, and on the moment – something that I easily get away from in my day to day routine. I tried new poses that I had never done before and held poses longer than I ever felt possible with Yin Yoga. As I flowed through the moves and focused in on my breath, I let the emotions that I had been holding in for months release themselves. And with this, I realised how essential it is that I take the time for myself to let everything go, allowing the world and things that truly do not matter to fade around me.
I noticed a calm wash over me during the Yoga Month Challenge. With this calm came a reinvigorated energy and focus shining through in my everyday life off of the mat. I became further in tune with myself, the world and people around me.
It is clear to say that I deepened and reawakened a connection with myself by re-establishing and expanding my practice in the Yoga Month Challenge. It reminded me that yoga allows me to take the time I need to check in with myself during the day, live in the moment and put life and the world around me in perspective. The Yoga Month Challenge helped me to come back to my daily practice and remember why I started yoga in the first place.
For this, I am ever grateful.
About the author
Ceara Copps-Edwards is a self-taught cook, foodie, yoga lover, runner, avid traveler and graduate student currently living in Belgium. She shares titbits from her life, writes about her continual journey towards health and shares recipes on her blog Ceara’s Kitchen where she creates comfort food using whole, healthy plant-based ingredients.