Why I started yoga

In the grand scheme of things, I am at the beginning of my yoga journey, I have met some incredible humans along the way who have much darker, more challenging journeys than I have. So I don’t claim to have all the answers and I know I have a lot more to learn. I just wanted to share some of my experiences and my learnings so far, in the hope that I can help anyone who wants to know how yoga works and why it can be such a powerful practice. I have always valued honesty over people pleasing, so some of what I write might not be comfortable to read, could press buttons and may even irritate some people in some way. But, I have found that the majority of my learnings have come from facing difficult truths and being open enough to question myself throughout that process. So I would ask that anyone reading keeps in mind that my intention is to share truthfully from my own experience and personal opinion, in the hope that I help others, and all of that comes from love. I would love to connect with all of you and hear any of your thoughts and feedback, so please feel free to email me laura@soulsanctuarystudios.com

When I meet people and they ask what I do, I say I teach yoga, and I usually get a variety of the below responses:

-Oh I’ve heard that’s really good for you, but I’m not flexible enough 🙂

-Oh I’ve heard that’s really good for you, but I’m too old for that now 🙂

-Oh I’ve heard that’s really good for you, I just don’t have the time for stuff like that 🙂

-Oh I’ve heard that’s really good for you, but I’m not brave enough 🙁 … I can imagine everyone around me being upside down or something 🙂

And before I started yoga, I thought the same… If I’m honest, I really thought it was…

A waste of time – If I had an hour to workout, I wanted to actually DO something, not just sit around breathing. I wanted to burn calories and get as thin as possible, because that meant I was achieving in some way (don’t worry…yoga changed that!)

Not for me – I was a ‘very busy’ hardworking, practical, high-achieving, non-spiritual, non-sleeping, globe-trotting, Bankside-based advertising executive, in my mind, I definitely was not ‘the yoga type’. I was pretty sure you were either born in the lotus position, brought up in a family that did yoga every morning, or maybe it was a religion or something. No one in my family did yoga, they would definitely laugh at me for trying it, and I certainly wasn’t Buddhist or Hindu, so I was 100% sure it wasn’t for me.

So why did I start yoga? And how did it become my life’s work?

Whilst I was working crazy hours in advertising, I was desperately fighting against burn out, which was, in my mind, a phrase that weak people used as an excuse to take time off (I know how awful that sounds, but for the old me, that was the truth). Yet, I had to get off the tube every other stop from Putney Bridge to Marylebone because my body was in such a state of stress that panic attacks had become the norm, I looked like I’d been swimming (even in winter) by the time I got to the office, just for the shear stress of the day ahead. The perspiration would literally drip off my nose. I did that for a few years and I would probably still be doing it now if my Dad hadn’t died.

Dad was poorly for a long time, ‘we knew it was coming’, but it’s right what they say, nothing prepares you. Intensive care was tough, a rollercoaster of hope and despair, and then that day comes when it’s all over, and you wish you were back in the days of despair.

I coped how I knew best, I got practical, I helped organise the funeral and then I went back to work (asap). I walked back into the office, I sat at my desk, opened my ‘must do’ list and could not find a single reason to do one thing on that list. In that moment, I realised, everything I had been doing up until that point was for Dad’s approval, and he was no longer on the planet… so now what?

I had to figure out what I actually wanted, basically, I had to find out who I really was. I grabbed my bag, walked straight out the office, and got on a train to Esher to my best friend’s house. As all true friends do, Cecilia hit me with the truth, ‘I love you, but I really think this is a legitimate reason for you to breakdown, get out of the rat race and now do what YOU really want! ’… of course, she was right. Now I just needed to figure out what the hell it was that I really wanted?

I got bereavement therapy, which quickly turned into addressing my issues of ‘perfectionism’ because that was what was making happiness impossible, keeping me on the hamster wheel, and making me feel like ‘rest’ was a glutenous waste of time (at this stage I wouldn’t even go to cinema because I could be achieving so much in those two hours… yep, it got bad). My therapist, along with so many others suggested I ‘try yoga’… wondering if anyone knew me at all, but at rock bottom, and with no energy to do my usual 10k runs or spin classes, I booked into a yoga class – truthfully, I thought it was at least a way to burn a few more calories (the only thing I could control at the time), with the remaining energy I had.

The universe works in mysterious ways, I was living in Putney at the time, so I went to The House of Yoga which was at the end of my road. Determined it wasn’t going to be for me, I couldn’t believe how it made me feel. Although the language made me cringe, the teacher irritated me and the poses were hard, something in me knew it was everything I needed. The class was all about ‘getting messy’, ‘listening to your body’, ‘putting ego aside’, doing what ‘felt good’, ‘coming out of thinking and into feeling’… At the time I didn’t really get what all that meant but I couldn’t deny how much better I felt, it was like someone found my fuel cap and just filled me back up. After so much suffering, how could it be that easy!? And why didn’t everyone know about this!? And that was it, with no idea what else I was going to do with my life and determined to help anyone who felt how I did, I enrolled into their teacher training.

I then moved to Worcester to live with my then boyfriend, who had moved from Harlequins to Worcester Warriors, I started a studio, we broke up, I stayed in Worcester, met the love of my life, opened another studio, ran a couple of teacher trainings myself, and now here I am writing about this… That’s a sped-up ending, and I know, not everyone will fall in love with yoga as quickly as I did, we all come to the practice at different times in our lives, but I wanted to share my journey, for anyone else out there who might be struggling or thinks yoga is a ‘waste of time’ or ‘not for you’, I would encourage to at least give it a try! If you don’t know where to begin, have a read of my ‘which style of yoga is for me?’ that should help! Or email me, and we can chat xx P.S your first class is free, just download the Soul Sanctuary app & book in

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