Sunday, 12 April 2015

How & Why I started Yoga - The Truth! by Nicole Stone


I rarely talk about myself but, if you're thinking of coming to one of my yoga classes near Calpe & Moraira in Spain or, joining one of our yoga retreats in Spain and you're curious as to what bought me to yoga then I hope this article gives you a bit more info on me & my motives to start yoga in my 30's.



The Why I started yoga is pretty easy. Like most people, I've worked for a number of exciting 'blue chip' companies which I absolutely loved.  I held various marketing communication roles for over 2 decades which allowed me to travel to some beautiful places across the World and work with some amazingly talented people.  Life was good.  I was healthy & seemingly,'had it all' - but the hours were long & at times, extremely stressful especially in the cut throat industries that I worked in.

Exercise was a regular part of my life.  I'm embaressed to admit I taught high impact aerobics in my early 20's (G-string lycra leotards OMG!) &  'graduated' to the gym in my late 20's going 3 times a week.  Looking back, I realise now that actually, instead of pounding away on the treadmill or going to high energy gym classes, I should have been more compassionate towards my body & taken it a bit easier as a way of showing some thanks for the 100%+  effort I put into my working life - day after day.

Little 'health' niggles started to crop up - countless colds, headaches, even leaning over the sink to clean my teeth for 2 minutes caused lower back pain!  But all these niggles were ignored as I ploughed on, determined not to be seen as 'weak' at work by taking sick days.

One day, in my early 30's, a friend asked me to go with her to a yoga class as she didn't want to go alone."Yoga - are you kidding?  I go to the gym .. yoga is for old people" I said.  Not wanting to let her down, I joined her at an evening class held in a cute wooden chalet in the teachers back garden.  I was so surprised by how challenging it was!  Me, an 'A' type personality who went to the gym & thought success was measured by how much you achieved & owned!  How could something as simple as folding over your legs be so difficult?  And why wasn't my body able to easily move into & hold simple looking poses ??

Frustrated but mildly curious, I decided to return to the class the following week & the weeks after that, as, not only did I notice my body becoming more flexible, I also noticed how calm & relaxed I felt on the drive home ... a feeling I'd never ever experienced in my 'full on' life!     After 6 months, having seen & felt an incredible change in my body I decided to begin a 2-year part time yoga teacher training course so that I could teach it to other stressed out executives just like me.

Then one day, everything changed.  Having arrived early at work - which was the norm if you wanted to get a parking space close to the office building - I switched on my PC, read a few emails & gathered my papers for a meeting.  But, when I went to stand up I simply couldn't stand.  It was if the message from my brain to my legs was not reaching my legs.   I sat there frozen & scared - what the hell was going on?  Why couldn't I stand?   My boss, sitting opposite me, saw the panic on my face & asked if everything was OK.  After explaining, she adamantly said ' Go Home, you need rest!".  With monumental mind over matter & using herculean strength, I put my hands on the desk & pushed myself up to standing.  My legs felt weird as if they weren't there, but with determination & the help of a colleague, I made my way out to my car - thankfully close to the building! - and drove home - which, yes, I probably shouldn't have done! - and went straight to bed feeling petrified.

To spare you the details, I was off work for some time.  My Doctor said it was all down to stress, overworked adrenal glands & a serious warning sign not to be ignored.  I started to regularly see a Kinesiologist who helped recalibrate my body - I was badly out of alignment having spent many hours crouched over a desk & my adrenal glands - that produce adrenalin - were all but empty due to stress.

Like most people, as soon as I started to feel myself again, I threw myself back into work & the long hours .. but something was different. I had changed.  By this time I was really enjoying my yoga studies & realised that, actually, I felt more 'at home' & at ease when I was on the yoga mat rather than behind my corporate desk battling with deadlines, budget cuts, office politics & ego's. 'That' World suddenly begun to loose its sparkle ... I could see how it was making me, my colleagues, family & friends quite ill & trapped in a vicious cycle of working hard just to keep on top of the huge mortgages, bank loans & school fees we all had just to maintain our seemingly 'perfect' lifestyles.

Sitting at home late one night eating dinner off a tray on my lap - a bad habit we'd gotten into - we watched a programme about a UK family who'd moved overseas to start a new life.  Just seeing them enjoying the sunshine, being together & spending quality time with their children made us wish it were us.  We begun to watch more of these programmes as a way of escaping our own stressful lives and begun daydreaming about us living that life ourselves.

Yoga Hotel in the Costa Blanca Mountains
Well, as the saying goes "where your attention goes, energy flows", we eventually found ourselves on a flight to Alicante to have a look around and bought a house that needed total renovation. The renovation was completed in under a year &, 6 months after moving with our 4 year old daughter, we were driving around exploring the area & came across a beautiful hotel in the mountains, and had the 'crazy idea' of using it to run yoga retreats for stressed out execs just like we had been ourselves!

Well, many late night discussions, business plans & building of a very basic yoga retreat website followed.  And then, suddenly, we got our first booking - OMG!  Amazing! Scary! Exciting!  That was some years ago &, I'm sort of ashamed to admit, that early  website is still live today - www.yogabreaks.org.uk - but we're still getting bookings from it so something must be right!   Since then we've created a more contemporary looking site - www.blissfulretreat.com

During all this time, my yoga practice has continued to build and deepen - I qualified as a teacher with an 'Excellent' grade diploma in 2001 - since which my studies have continued with some amazing yoga teachers who helped expand & grow my love of yoga.

We're still living in Spain & I'm still running Yoga Breaks in Spain at 3 beautiful little hotels near the coast and teaching a weekly Wednesday yoga class at a great little tennis club near the sea between Calpe & Moraira.  Either of which you are welcome to join if you ever need to escape, get back into you body, feel stronger, leaner & calmer.

I Love to teach other 'high energy' people like me who are keen to have or maintain a strong, healthy & toned body.  It's great to see people in class & on retreats who think "yoga is just for old people" but are amazed at how great they feel at the end of a class or, if they stick with it for a few weeks, notice the profound difference in their body & mind.

Thanks for reading!   If my story has touched a nerve with you, feel free to add your comments below, share it, like it or get in touch with me our Yoga Breaks in Spain retreat website or my yoga class Facebook page

Hope we'll roll out our yoga mats together one day!

Namaste.
Nicole

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