By Sarah Stollery, kundalini yoga and meditation teacher.
My experience with the practice of yoga began many years ago when I first moved to the UK in 2002. I began by attending a weekly class at a rented space in Cambridge taught by the amazing Louise Palmer Masterson, who went on to found CamYoga, a chain of excellent yoga studios in Cambridge and the surrounding villages.
Mostly I enjoyed the exercise and the similarities that yoga shared with dance as that had been my favourite physical/creative outlet when I was growing up. But it was also technical and required a level of dedication and passion to progress that I did not feel I wanted to pursue at the time.
I dabbled with different classes and teachers over the next few years, liking the idea of yoga more than the actual practice itself. Looking back, I realise I had failed to truly understand the essence of yoga at all. At the time, it was simply another form of physical exercise to me.
I was intrigued and so found a teacher in Cambridge. After my first class, I knew a seed had been sewn. I had no idea what would grow out of it, but I knew that kundalini yoga was part of my future somehow. The only problems were that classes were very hard to find and Cambridge was a challenge for me to get to, but I still felt drawn to learn more about the practice.
And so it was in October 2014 that I decided to train to become a kundalini yoga and meditation teacher. Up to this point, I had followed the odd DVD and sporadically meditated here and there, but it wasn’t until I took on the training that I began to practice regularly at home as it was a requirement of the course.
Things holding you back
Some of the things that had stopped me practicing at home before I started training were:
- The belief that I did not have enough experience or knowledge of yoga;
- Feeling like I did not know what to practice, when or how. In other words, what did practicing on my own actually look like?
- Believing I needed a teacher watching over me to make sure I was doing it all correctly all the time;
- The mindset that my practice should resemble a full 90 minute yoga class, which I did not have time for.
But very soon after I began practicing at home, many things changed including, most significantly, my perception of yoga itself. Instead of it simply being a set of exercises I liked the idea of, it became like a best friend. It became a relationship.
It also became a source of comfort – and sometimes discomfort! – a container that allowed insights about myself to come to the surface and enable me to change my behaviour for the better. Most importantly, it became a tool – THE tool – for managing my wellbeing.
I came to realise that yoga is not just something you do on a mat for 30 minutes a day. It is a deeper, enriched and ever-evolving relationship with yourself that truly begins the moment you commit to spending time with yourself.
It really is that simple – and as soon as we make it more than that we risk creating the limitations that stop us from practicing on our own. Attending a class is still vital to make progress, provide community and expand our knowledge base. But the real gold, at least for me, comes through the constancy, silence and stillness that often happens at 10.42 pm on a Sunday night in my own living room.
Sarah Stollery is a kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and co-founder of The Cabin, a self-directed learning community for home-educated children. She is passionate about empowering people of all ages and stages of life with the tools to thrive in these challenging times by creating space to learn, explore and integrate a wide range of wellbeing practices.
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