Healing approaches

The transformational power of personal yoga practice

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Photo by Cedric Lim on Pexels.com

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.

But a few years later, a very dear friend told me about kundalini yoga and meditation. She explained that it was different to the hatha yoga I had been practicing and it had changed her life.

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.

Leap of faith
Leap of faith

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 headshot

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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Kundalini yoga: Awakening to a new truth

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Healing approaches, Inspiring stories

Kinesiology: A personal journey

Life's journey
Life’s journey

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.

Someone asked me the other day how I first got into kinesiology and that made me think of how my journey into the profession started a long time ago.

In fact, I was a student in London doing a BA honours degree in Jewellery at the time. Our technician had asked for some willing guinea pigs for his wife, who was studying to become a kinesiologist. Everyone looked at him with blank faces – and even now, I still occasionally get ‘a kinesi-what?’

But it did not take too much persuasion to get involved, mainly due to the fact that she was happy to feed any willing bodies, albeit macrobiotic food, which as it happens was delicious. So a pioneering group of us set off to discover what this brave new world was all about.

We lay down on the couch and ‘resisted her pressure’ as she tested the muscles of our arms and legs in various positions. She carried out corrections using massage points, homeopathic drops, colour, sound and so on. It was fascinating and magical. The whole experience was lots of fun and a huge eye opener to things I had never previously known existed.

But it was a year or so later that my journey down this path really began as I developed psoriasis, mainly on my scalp, while undertaking my finals. I saw a doctor many times during this time and tried all manner of shampoos, steroid creams and tablets, but to no avail.

Eventually I gave a kinesiologist a go and, after my first session, he advised me that my body was struggling to absorb dairy products and that I should stop eating anything containing milk. This statement caused me to experience a whole range of emotions, the biggest of which was fear.

No more cappuccinos – was he crazy? OMG, what about cake? Cheese I did not mind so much as I had always considered it a pointless food that I neither liked nor understood – and as for milk, yuk.

But this was back in the early 1990’s and dairy-free foods were not as readily available then, although they could be found in health food shops. You certainly would not come across them in what a friend calls “the fusspot section” of the supermarket as we do now.

Leap of faith
Leap of faith

Leap of faith

So I took a leap of faith, irritating anyone who offered to cook for me in the process, by swapping out cows milk-based products for the only real alternative at the time, soya milk. And I was disappointed to report there was no real change.

But when I returned to the kinesiologist, we discovered that my body had just as much of an aversion to soy as it did to dairy. No soya. Holy Moly – what would I eat now?

So I duly cut out all the soya products, which was not much of a sacrifice as I did not care much for them anyway. And then the magic happened: my psoriasis got better, disappearing never, ever, to return again.

I felt great. My digestive system was no longer a grumpy, irritated beast that made me prone to bloating, cramping and feeling gaseous, with all of the unfortunate consequences that entails.

I also no longer suffered from regular, painful coldsores, brought on by late nights, too much work and any kind of fun or stress. One of them even went rogue at one point and turned into impetigo. But I have to report that over the last 20 years or so, I have only had three or four at most.

While all of this may not sound life-changing, it was to me. I realised that my system was not depleted as a result of taking drugs or medicines. It was simply about putting something into my body that it struggled to digest. After years of doing its best, the added stress of my finals was just more than it could take.

When I look back, my body was always trying to tell me that I was failing to make lactase, the enzyme required to break down lactose in milk. Or alternatively, perhaps I did not have enough of it, or something was blocking it.

But as a baby, once my mum tried to put me on formula milk, I became covered in eczema. We struggled on though, eventually settling on a goat’s milk formula that was not rejected immediately by my delicate system.

Life force
Life force

Times move on

Although we were given various creams to help, I also developed multiple ear infections and repeated tonsillitis. By the age of five, they took out my tonsils and adenoids, which was a horrid operation. Could the procedure have been avoided if milk had not impaired my immune system? Yes, I believe so.

But times have moved on since then and at least some GPs would now suggest reducing or removing dairy from your diet in the case of skin complaints.

Anyway, this history meant that the kinesiologist’s diagnosis really struck a chord with me. I needed to add nothing to my diet – just take something away. It was so simple and yet it enhanced everything – my energy, my overall health and, much to my boyfriend’s delight, also reduced my moodswings. My digestive system became calm and amenable.

After that, I started seeing a kinesiologist for all of my ailments. By the time I came to seriously consider if I could actually work this magic myself, I had been benefiting from it for a very long time. I took all three of my children to my kinesiologist and most of my friends went too – if only to shut me up.

The most dramatic situation though was when I broke my coccyx. It became dislodged and moved over to one side rather than being straight. I had also slipped a disc and was suffering from sciatica, which meant I found it difficult to walk or drive. After my scan, the consultant said the best thing would be to have the coccyx surgically removed.

But I decided to call my kinesiologist, who is also a craniosacral therapist. Using very gentle techniques, she was able to encourage my body to ease the coccyx back into alignment. I suffered no more pain or discomfort and had no more need for it to be chopped off.

What more can I say: I love this work and am very keen for others to have healthy, happy outcomes as a result of it too – which is why I became a kinesiologist in the first place.

I have now also qualified as a ‘Touch for Health’ kinesiology instructor. If you would like to see for yourself whether this approach works for you, Touch for Health is the first step, so please contact me directly for teaching dates. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about kinesiology in general or locate a practitioner near you, the Kinesiology Federation is definitely the place to go.

selfp

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Kinesiology: The science of human movement

Picking up clues on the journey to self-discovery

Homeopathy: Awakening the vital force