My Yoga Journey: how it all began
3rd July 2014. On my way to work on my beautiful white and purple road bike, enjoying the wind on my face, the pace in my legs, and watching central London whizz by. Or at least I was until I crossed paths with a left-turning van. And then I was sprawled across the tarmac, badly winded, missing copious amounts of skin down the right side of my body, and unable to move my right arm.
One ambulance journey, one set of very painful x-rays, and one taxi ride home later (with two bikes alongside my husband and I because he of course had ridden his to the hospital!) and I guess that is where my yoga journey began.
Not that me, my broken collarbone, and generally smooshed shoulder knew it at the time.
After 6 weeks of pretty brutal recovery – the joy of breaking a collarbone is that you get to wander around with an unset broken bone – I was back on my bike and back to a pretty normal life. Apart from the fact the mobility of my right shoulder was a fraction of what it was before. I couldn’t lift my arm above shoulder height. I couldn’t get my arm behind my back in order to do my own bra clasp. At the age of 28, this was somewhat of a problem.
Cue twice a week physiotherapy, and a certain amount of progress. But let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing the exercises my physio was setting for me. Carving out time, even 5 minutes, in my day for exercise just seemed so alien to me at this point in my life.
I had never been a sporty person. I was always too skinny, too tall, too uncoordinated as a child to be any good at the team sports we played during school games lessons. Tap dance lessons were quickly abandoned after a year or two before the age of 8, and the thought of gymnastics or ballet was quite frankly laughable.
I was the girl who could barely do a roly-poly, forget about a cartwheel. In my twenties, as the impact of long work days and long party nights began to show itself on my body, I started dabbling. In spin classes, in aerial silks, in weights, but nothing stuck. I had even been on a couple of yoga retreats (though never a normal class – it was always for something to do as a trip away).
The cycling to work was a new development at the start of 2014 after one too many tube strikes on a new route to work having moved house combined to make it a viable option for the first time. But even then, it only lasted because it was functional – it got me home quicker and in a nicer fashion than the Northern Line!
Anyway, back to the busted shoulder. My physio and I were fast running out of sessions. So she suggested yoga. Specifically Iyengar, a slower style of the practice which is focused on correct alignment, the use of props to enable all abilities to get into poses safely, and yoga for healing.
Despite having been at my job for 5 years, I had no idea my work gym did yoga classes, let alone something more specialised like Iyengar.
So in December 2014 I went along for the first time. I arrived late, so sneaked onto a mat at the back, and proceeded to do a downward dog so bad the teacher had to come over and ask what was wrong with me. Eek! But I went back. Once, twice, and again. I couldn’t touch my toes. I couldn’t do a single chaturanga, even from my knees. But it was a start, and it felt like it was the start of something that might just stick…