With the imposed self-isolation, caused by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the subject of our mental health has been thrown into the spotlight more than ever before. Indeed it is a widely held belief that the next pandemic we will experience will be mental illness. As we come to the end of  Mental Health Awareness Week I thought I would update my blog with my own experiences of mental health & how yoga & meditation has helped me to cope.
Most of us can admit to going through difficult times, feeling lonely, anxious, low self-esteem and self-doubt. However we don’t often admit that these periods in our lives may be a glitch in our mental health.
When I decided to train as a yoga teacher, I wasn’t really sure what direction my life was going in. My  children were all approaching, or already in their early teens. I had been managing a long term chronically bad back for years and I had no desire to resume my former career.  

When one of my yoga teachers floated the idea of me training to teach yoga myself, I was initially horrified. I felt completely inadequate, there was simply no way that I was in any position to teach yoga to others. However she convinced me that if taking yoga classes was making a difference to me managing my daily life, then perhaps now was the time to delve a little deeper. Eventually I came round to the idea and although I didn’t think I would ever have the confidence to actually teach, I didn’t think that this was a reason not to do the training. 

The teacher’s training course I eventually chose was set in modules over 18 months. Located near where I live in London and run as a separate educational arm of my local yoga studio The Life Centre. It meant I could easily fit it around trying to be a good mother to my five children and also absorb and assimilate the information in bite size chunks. Even so, there were times when I really did feel that fitting in the actual training days, undertaking personal study, essay writing, attending extra yoga classes, extended reading and working on my self practice was a struggle. However with the help of my supportive husband and family, fellow students and tutors, my  knowledge and love of yoga began to grow. I also realised that I was beginning to feel a little better about myself in the process.

So what am I taking such a long time to say here? I guess it’s this. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, isolated or low. If so called friends have knocked you back and life’s pressures are getting you down, just take a minute and ask yourself what it is that you can do that’s just for you? What makes you feel better? What feeds you? 

In my case I had already discovered that yoga had become one of my anchors, a solid foundation upon which I could build something that was just for me.  This despite the fact that I have been blessed with a loving husband and family and for many years have enjoyed being a member of my church and my community. My yoga practice and over 18 years of teaching my interpretation of yoga to others have really helped me with my mental health and well-being
Practicing yoga is like creating your own sanctuary, it’s setting aside time for self care. Yoga helps us to feel stronger physically,  mentally, emotionally and be more receptive to our spiritual potential,  whatever our belief, or lack of belief might be. 
If any of this resonates with you, or you think that practicing yoga might help someone you know, encourage yourself, or them, to give it a go. 
While during these unprecedented times of coronavirus there are no in person classes. Nearly every yoga studio &  yoga teacher has made their teaching available on line via apps like Zoom where we can interact with the class from our own homes. True virtual yoga is never going to replace teaching yoga in person however it is wonderful and convenient way to still be able to connect. 
There is also masses of free content on line. You Tube, Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo have vast catalogues of yoga & guided meditation offerings.  
So find something or someone that suits you. Turn up (yes that’s the hard bit) and just allow yourself to enjoy practicing yoga in your own home at a time that suits you. No matter what age you are, whether you’re bendy or stiff, strong or weak, you will find that you will slowly restore your faith in you. 
By offering yourself time & space for loving kindness & self care you can quiet your inner critic, clear your inner skies & enjoy the mental health benefits of a regular yoga & meditation practice during these difficult times & throughout the rest of your life. 

To find out about my online yoga classes, future retreats please visit  LIVE STREAM YOGA CLASSES