How yoga swooped in and saved my most challenging year

As part of my training to become a yoga teacher, I was asked to write a blog post to share my reflections about the process. It appeared on Yoga Quota’s blog last month, and I wanted to share it here on my website as well. This past year has been truly transformational and brought so many changes to my life, and writing this blog post was an opportunity to reflect on it and quite honestly, feel proud of myself for not just getting through it, but growing and becoming stronger at the same time as finding a new super supportive group of people in the other trainees, teachers I have met and now my own students as well.

I hope you enjoy the read!

Inma x

Photo by  Elle Narbrook

Photo by Elle Narbrook

Ever since I started practicing yoga it has been an anchor during challenging times in my life. Yoga was there when I was heartbroken after losing my dad to cancer. When I couldn’t sleep, eat, or go a day without crying, Olivia, my yoga teacher, gave me a simple sequence I could practice before bed so that I could sleep better and rest.

On my first yoga retreat in Cornwall, with Shine Yoga. These are my yurt buddies, who I didn’t know before but who I shared sooooo many laughs with!

On my first yoga retreat in Cornwall, with Shine Yoga. These are my yurt buddies, who I didn’t know before but who I shared sooooo many laughs with!

Yoga was there for me when only a year later a very close friend passed away, also from cancer. I’d been so involved in the logistics of her last weeks and helping her Italian family with the funeral arrangements that I had not had time to even grieve her loss. During a 4 day yoga retreat her favourite song came on and I let the tears stream down my cheeks. I went on this trip on my own but found an amazing and warm group of yogis and started to understand the power of the yoga community.

Although I started practicing yoga in search of calm and relaxation I also found my inner strength. The more I immersed myself in my practice, in going to workshops, retreats, festivals, the steadier, stronger, more resilient I felt. I wanted to go deeper and decided to train as a yoga teacher.

I started the training in January, excited about the nine months ahead. Two days later a big earthquake hit me. My mum was diagnosed with lymphoma and I decided to move to my native Spain to be with her. I felt so sure about it, yet I had a big question: How could I complete my teacher training now? Could I even do it? Luckily, Yoga Quota’s programme is very flexible and after looking at all the dates available over the next year and a half and creating a very complicated spreadsheet, I realised it was feasible. If I could fly to the UK for a weekend every couple of months I would be able to do it. Little did I know what a life saver those weekends would be. 

Four weeks later I was on a plane, moving back to a country where I hadn’t lived for 14 years. A country where I hadn’t lived as an adult, back to the family home. I left a job I loved, a house I loved, a city I loved, hundreds of people I loved. What lay ahead was unknown and scary. 

Sometimes you worry about the unknown and when things come around, they are easier than you expected. This is not one of those stories. My mum’s chemotherapy treatment started with a bang when she had a severe reaction to one of the drugs and nearly stopped breathing. There were days I had to cancel everything else because mum was very sick or we had medical appointments, and then there were the emergency trips to the hospital. My life no longer felt mine. My time no longer felt mine to plan.

It was then that I started getting up at a ridiculous time in the morning while everyone was asleep to practice for an ideal 30 minutes. Sometimes I just sat and meditated for 10. Some days I moved with energy. Doing this gave me a huge sense of achievement. I had control over a few minutes each day. 

Soon things started to settle and I found a yoga class locally, which allowed me to get out of the house and meet other yogis. In the summer I started going to the park once a week to teach a class to my friends. Being surrounded by trees, supported by the green grass under the gorgeous blue sky was a tonic for my heart.

I don’t quite know how, with so much uncertainty, I still managed to fly to the UK every other month for my training. I never knew if I would be able to make the next date, but somehow it always worked out. At home I was using a lot of my energy to care for others, and those weekends in Oxford gave me all the energy I needed and more. They felt indulgent. I got to spend two days learning about yoga with a room full of lovely people who were becoming friends.

On a training retreat Yoga Quota last September.

On a training retreat Yoga Quota last September.

After the summer, my yoga teacher at home put me in touch with a yoga studio that was looking for a teacher and I started teaching three classes a week, where I have met some great yogis who come to class regularly. In Spain we like to chat a lot, and I love the buzz of the five minutes before the class starts, when people talk to each other about their week, and the very chilled five minutes after class, when everyone is blissed out after Savasana but still eager to keep talking to one another!

I am now just one full day away from completing my training (*) and as I look back, I can only describe this year as a rollercoaster. Many of the highs and happy moments have been related to yoga, and the tough moments have always been made better because of it. Yoga is always there for me, and will always be there for me, to create happy moments, to value the joy there is in every moment. It is also there when I need to curl up on my mat and let the tears fall, when I need to give a big sigh and let all the tension go. I’ve come to realise that yoga is my super power.

(*) Now completed! Yay! :)

Inma Andres