From Unlikely Yogi to Yoga Teacher
Having been a well-being coach, healer, and author for over fifteen years, becoming a yoga teacher in my fifties feels like both a huge surprise and a natural progression.
Loved it but wasn’t very ‘good’
I’ve dabbled with yoga since my early twenties. I loved how it helped me switch off from stress and feel more relaxed, calm, and at peace.
But I didn’t fully embrace it as I used to think yoga was all about getting into the ‘right’ shape–which my short inflexible and more rounded body wasn’t keen to do.
I was often the one in class, struggling to get my body to do what others were doing, with clumsy transitions between poses. Sometimes I’d lie down on the floor until the class moved on to something I could do. On one occasion I even walked out: being shouted at in a dictatorial fashion by a guy who could easily have been an army commander isn’t a style of yoga I enjoy.
I used to think (incorrectly) that yoga was about getting your body into a particular shape and so I wasn’t good at it! I also didn’t realise that part of a teacher’s role is to be inclusive – to enable all those who turn up to experience the intention of yoga.
Looking back it’s no wonder I never thought I was very good at yoga. Yes I wasn’t good at mastering the gymnastic postures or rushing through a cardio sequence, but honestly, that wasn’t what I went to yoga for! I was looking for a more subtle form of exercise.
Thankfully something kept drawing me back
I initially went to yoga with the goal of becoming fitter, to tone up my muscles, and increase my flexibility.
However, more often than not, I experienced something pleasantly unexpected too – I liked how through breathing and mindful movement I was able to switch off from the stresses in my life. I usually left feeling a deeper sense of calm, peace and knowing.
The more I went the more I realised the benefits of ‘innercise’ as well as exercise.
Yoga helped me recover from burnout and fatigue
I became increasingly curious about yoga when I was exploring ways to better cope with midlife challenges.
Having been healthy most of my life, it was a shock to suddenly experience lots of healthy challenges in my forties including burnout, fatigue, and the alien force of menopause that had taken over my body. I was used to being an active high achiever but my body had had enough. It ground to a halt. Desperate for me to be kinder to myself.
I was advised to stop running and doing Crossfit on the days I had energy and to do yoga instead. Yoga helped me heal, recover, and be in more control of my health. The more I practiced, the better and stronger I felt.
I became completely hooked after experiencing daily one-to-one yoga sessions for a week while on a retreat in Bali. I kept up the practice after my return though choosing now to focus on slower more mindful yoga practices rather than the athletic styles I’d done in the past.
Thanks to my regular yoga practice, I now feel fitter and healthier than I have done in years.
A transformational experience
When yoga captures your heart, it is a transformational experience and never-ending story. Not just in your body and mind but in other areas of life too.
By embracing the universal truths of yoga, my regular practice has improved my health and has released more flow and clarity in my business. Without a doubt it yoga has enabled me to cope better and be more resilient during Covid restrictions.
Discovering the ultimate goal of yoga is connection and not the attainment of athletic body postures helped me embrace yoga. I no longer felt I couldn’t do it, because ‘it’ was not the intention of yoga. Phew! I just didn’t resonate with some approaches and teachers. This helped dispel the myth I didn’t need to get my body into a particular shape.
Maybe, given I often felt a sense of peace and connection, I was better at yoga than I thought?
This felt more true when I discovered that traditional yoga didn’t include any asanas (postures). Even in modern-day Western yoga, asanas are just one of eight limbs of yoga. Others include ethics (towards others and ourselves), mindful breathing, turning inward, concentration, meditation, and blissful union between self and universe. Much of which I’ve been teaching for almost twenty years.
Curiosity sparking personal growth
I’ve also learned yoga is far more enjoyable when you adopt a curious approach to exploring which style works for you and explore how your body can experience the benefits of asanas. We all have different bodies and to think there is an ultimate expression of an asana or shape we ‘should’ be able to put our body into now seems like madness to me.
I much prefer taking my time playing with what feels my body wants to do each day including using props where I feel it would be good to do so.
I am adopting a similar approach to life now too. I prioritise my daily self-care practice before work. I am curious. I lean into what feels fun and joyful. I have a great support team around me. It feels like a more authentic and compassionate way to live.
Becoming a yoga teacher
When I started my yoga teacher training I honestly wasn’t thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. My main reason for doing it was to improve my personal yoga practice. But gosh has it been one of the best things I’ve ever done!
It’s been wonderful to develop a better understanding of the scope of yoga, yoga philosophy, how my body works and helped me recover from a torn disc earlier this year (under the guidance of a physio). Over the last eight months, I’ve become stronger, more toned, and flexible. I’ve also developed a deeper spiritual practice which feels great.
As part of our training, we were of course assessed on our ability to teach yoga classes. I really enjoyed the challenge of doing this and seeing the improvements people I worked with experienced. That was the point I started to wonder about whether to teach yoga to others. How could yoga classes, courses, and events fit into my business?
A marriage of skills
I know a couple of my greatest talents and what I love doing is training and speaking, both in-person and online. It’s hard to believe I’ve been leading well-being workshops and courses for almost twenty years, with over ten years of this being online. Yoga also fits in perfectly with my desire to run retreats and help women over 40 thrive and enjoy more meaningful lives.
Your health, well-being, and self-care practices are critical components of your ability to enjoy life and be of service to others. As too is your relationship with your soul, that part of you that’s always there even if you feel disconnected from it sometimes.
That’s why I’ve decided to become a yoga teacher. I can’t quite believe it but I am excited to be embarking upon this journey in my early fifties.
Yoga as an older woman
I know I’m not the only woman of a certain age who prefers to be taught by someone at a similar stage of life both on and off the mat.
If you are over forty you’re likely to have experienced many changes in your body. I wonder if like me you’ve become increasing aware of the need to look after your body. To move and do exercises that will help you be more resilient, physically fit and at peace as you age.
Nowadays there are many styles of yoga teaching. I suggest you try out a few until you find what resonates with you.
When I had more energy I used to like cardio styles of yoga such as Ashtanga Yoga. But I now much prefer the slower-paced styles such as Gentle Hatha Yoga, Slow Mindful Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Yoga Nidra.
Together these styles of yoga are particularly good for strength building (including stronger bones), flexibility, mobility, weight management, reducing stress, overcoming menopause symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Do any of these appeal?
That’s why I’ve chosen to teach these styles of yoga.
If you’re a woman over forty who resonates with what I share and wants to experience the many benefits of slow mindful yoga, please do get in touch – no matter what your shape, size, or ability.
I’d love to hear from you. Please do comment below.
Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of 100,000 people–by making it easier for women over forty to thrive, make the most of life, and have more impact in the world.
Alisoun’s personal support, online group programs, mentoring, talks, and best-selling books Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success and Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves travelling, exploring, and living by the beach in Scotland.
Alisoun is has written the following free resources:
- Ebook: 101+ Ways to Create a Joyful Life of Meaning, Vitality, and Impact – click here.
- Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business – click here
- Ebook: 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact – click here
You can connect with Alisoun here:
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