All my life I wanted to do yoga but I actually never started my physical practice until I was 39 years old. My class was at my local gym with the thump of weights dropping on the floor and gym music in the background to test our distractions. My first yoga teacher was a very lovely lady who was down to earth and really encouraging. So it began, my first yoga class, finally! I don’t know what it was but from the first downward facing dog I was hooked. The strength that came from holding poses with stillness and focus on breath was very challenging to me and I was always a very fit person having played various sports since I was 8 years old.
I found the yoga challenged me in my balance and my strength in ways I did not expect. I thought yoga would be easy. Instead it stirred up places inside of my body and mind that were weak and brought them immediately to my attention. My practice in the early days was often driven by ego, a competitiveness to be good at the poses. A habit deeply embedded in me after a lifetime of competitive sport perhaps or possibly just my competitive nature.
It wasn’t long before I came to the realisation that yoga seemed to replicate life. Challenges would arise during practice being somewhat reflective to what was going on in my personal life. For example, I became aware how easy I was distracted whilst trying to balance on one leg in tree pose…hmmm! Kind of like life where I would try to focus on staying grounded and balanced in a stressful situation only to be easily swayed and knocked for a sixer when my buttons were pressed with life’s unwelcomed curve balls.
Over the years since my first yoga class, I have been a committed practitioner of yoga which includes Vinyasa Yoga, Hot Yoga and Bikram. The different styles provide me with various challenges however I am a lot more comfortable with being uncomfortable these days due to a regular practice. Additionally yoga has provided me with my number one body therapy treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety after 13 years in the police service, 8 of which serving as a first response crime scene officer.
Yoga truly benefits the body on a physical level providing more mobility, stability, flexibility and strength. However the additional benefits are also just as amazing such as the mindfulness, meditation and breathe work to name a few. The greatest benefit I get from yoga practice or even through teaching is how the breath can flip the switch in the brain from our sympathetic nervous system which we know as fight, flight, freeze to the parasympathetic nervous system which we know as rest and digest. Those with PTSD often have their brains stuck on fight, flight, freeze so you can imagine through this form of body therapy the relief that is obtained as there is no medication available to specifically treat PTSD, only the effects of PTSD such as depression and anxiety.
My love for yoga and its amazing benefits to my personal healing caused me to seek a deeper knowledge into the practice which led me to teacher training. The experience of teacher training was a journey that opened me to a deeper understanding myself. Additionally, the journey has provided me with more strategies toward living a healthier life. Now I can share this knowledge and skills with you on your yoga journey.
Suzie Kellett (owner/founder of Empower Yoga & Fitness)