Katherine Ashley shares her personal journey with yoga, how what started out as a physical challenge soon developed into something richer and more healing that she ever thought possible.
I never thought I’d be the ‘yoga type’. I’d always played competitive sports where you played in a ‘team’ and you wanted to ‘win’. I wasn’t ‘flexible’. I couldn’t touch my toes. I thought yoga was for ‘other people’ who were ‘into that sort of thing’. But after countless injuries and years spent struggling with anxiety and depression, the mat is where I found myself.
The beginning was hard. Downward dog wasn’t easy. I got frustrated when I couldn’t do all the poses. My muscles hurt. My thoughts would race in Shavasana. A head stand was impossible. But somewhere along the way it got easier. Downward dog became a little bit easier. My muscles didn’t hurt so much. The poses became more natural. I could actually touch my toes for the first time in my life. My thoughts became quieter. I started to feel less anxious and sad. I was sleeping better and not waking with that churning stomach every morning. And suddenly life didn’t seem so bad. I started to think that maybe this was what had been missing from my life.
So I started to turn up more, to try more classes, to challenge myself. And i started to feel even better. I felt lighter, my body felt stronger, my mind was more positive. And so I kept doing it. I committed myself to the mat. I pushed myself and sweated like a madwoman. I relaxed and started to accept my limitations. And then bit by bit I started to let go – let go of trying to control everything and just accept things for the way they were.
And then I started to heal – physically, emotionally and spiritually. I started to peel back all those layers that had been holding me back. I started to connect again, to express myself and ask others for help. I finally sought therapy for my anxiety and depression, I stopped taking medication, I ate better, I slept better, I lost weight. So today i find myself on the mat again. To learn, to focus, to relax.
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