Yoga: What it really means. Community, connection, love and generosity.
I have been meaning to write this blog post for some time but have struggled to know quite where to start. It is two years and one month since I made the decision, against all odds, to leave London as a single woman in her early thirties and make the bold move down to the West Country. I knew just one person (and we aren’t even really friends anymore) and I was here to start a new life as a yoga teacher with the sum total of £4000 to my name having fallen out with the last family member I had communication with in order to procure that sum from the inheritance she received from my grandmother to which I was apparently entitled to none. I knew it was a huge risk but I had a dream of living an alternative existence in a gypsy caravan/yurt or log cabin. I dreamed of surviving on an exchange of love – your hard earned money and sometimes other goods in return for my healing.
This is where I started. Being evicted from a flat in Crystal Palace.
The reactions to this decision were as you might expect somewhat mixed ranging between, “Oh here she goes again, another madcap scheme doomed to fail,” whilst others settled in to watch the ride as one might before an episode of Cheech and Chong the resemblance to which it could well be argued (Yes, I can do a half moon pose whilst being extremely stoned). I was convinced that if I held good to my intentions – to make healing accessible to all – that the universe would look after me. Tracking back the events since I left London which have included significant stints of time in homelessness, I would say it’s fair to assume that it has.
I know that there are some who were surprised to discover that I had been treading such a fine line between dream and disaster since for the most part, I am positive, happy and living life to the full but even through my resilience, there have been times when I have fallen. This to the more distant outsider, would have been seen or experienced as a number of amazing photos and status updates on facebook with the ocasional cry for help on discovering that this bid for freedom wasn’t quite so smooth sailing as everyone thought it to be.
There are some who may think I have been living the life of riley and when things have gone wrong, have thought it could only have been through fault of my own (laziness and frivolity). Others who know me intimately however, have seen the extraordinary lengths I have trodden in order to get my business off the ground without losing sight of the very reason I started – taking healing to as many people as possible, especially those who most need it.
The number of little miracles which have befallen me in the past three is testament to the huge hearts and generosity available to us from people in our community who have taken it upon themselves to help me even when they have barely known me. When I first lost my home somewhere around 2010, my friend Alan took me into his spare room in the flat pictured above. I managed to make it to the loft of Jenny Kilpatrick in Wiveliscombe and when things didn’t go as planned with less than a week till my rent was due and no way of finding it, I met Anna in the village cafe. Without even knowing me, she offered me her damp, cold, dark, spare room with a damp and broken bed for which I was grateful at the time. When winter set in and the room became uninhabitable, I moved to the sofa for 3 months before finding a tiny, cave-like flat in Wiveliscombe with no light, view or garden but plenty of mould and damp.
Friends would have seen me posting pictures dreaming of living a humble existence in a bow top gypsy caravan or log cabin though at the time, it seemed like I may as well be lusting after a mansion as my classes in and around the area had flat-lined. Realising I had no idea how to get myself into a better situation, I moved in far too early with a man who if nothing else, got me into a house with daylight. Two months in and I saw that everything I’d experienced had been a charade, I found myself being kicked out with no job and no house and no family to speak of (I know my mum will be upset if she reads this but the fact is I’d rather sleep on the street than go back to hers so hopefully she won’t read it). From there I first went to friends in Taunton (thank you Phil and Darrelle) for two weeks before I had to move on. I left their house with fear in my stomach, knowing that, although I had a tent in the car, the Quantocks at night in April would be bloody cold. When I arrived on Anne-Marie’s doorstep, it was with a huge lump in my throat. I’ve never seen more compassion and softness on anyone’s face when I fought back tears responding to her question with, “I don’t know where to go”. She immediately took me in, made me food and above all, listened. For three weeks I used her place as a base, job hunted world wide and asked the universe, “What am I meant to do?”
The one root that held me was the yoga class I ran at Weston-Super-Mare, the earnings from which I was somehow, miraculously surviving from but I still felt lost with no idea where to go. I explored an opportunity in Cornwall to no avail and my time ran out at Anne-Marie’s and I mentally scanned the 20 odd offers I’d had for sofas etc. all over the UK. Finally, my amazing friend Tink who I also barely knew at the time came forward and said, “I’ve got a spare room!” She was in Taunton. It was easy. It felt right. My god was I grateful. Two months passed feeling like two years as I scrabbled around trying to get cash together still feeling into where I was being directed. Househunting seemed ridiculous with no income, £300 savings and at that point no hope of any but eventually a sign came which kicked me into starting the process. On a website, I found a log cabin nestled in a garden, somewhere not too far from my Weston Super Mare class. With nothing in front of it but a field and only 40 minutes drive from Bristol I’d struck gold but how on earth was I going to find £400 a month plus the first month’s rent and deposit?
It always helps at such times to be kicked while you’re down. I had reached the point of questioning why this was all happening and felt like an utter failure, remembering a nasty long email I’d had from my dad a few years earlier which listed my failures and misgivings down to specific examples over my 28 year long existence when my mum decided to have a go too. “When are you going to grow up? Become responsible? Stop thinking the world owes you a living. We all have to do shit we don’t want to do etc. etc.” It went on. She’d obviously forgotten all the years I’d spent as a secretary, doing care work, working in Halfords, cancelling pensions at Lloyds TSB, shovelling shit… I won’t bore you further as the list goes on.
I still didn’t know for sure if I could move in as permission to rent it was being sought from the council and when I upped sticks to go to a friend’s place in Bristol, I was praying that it would come through quickly and literally did by chanting to Lakshmi. One week later I was told it had been granted and I was still short of the rent etc. and that night had to find somewhere new to stay. Upset, exhausted and thoroughly fed up I turned up to meet my friend Dick at a Bar in the Gloucester Road and admitted through tears that I was stuck for somewhere to go. He scooped me up in a hug and said, “Right, you’re coming back with me!”.
Finally, with help from the universe (lots of work suddenly coming through), my friend Pete Best (who lives up to his name) and my mum (for the first time in my life) never mind the general support of friends after chanting my bum off to Lakshmi, the money came through and the permission was granted for me to move into my absolute dream home where I am surrounded by the loveliness of my landlady and her daughter, the incredible countryside of the Mendips and their pets. I have a yoga class at the local gym in Churchill, another one in the pipeline, a steadily growing client list, a yoga class planned in Bristol and some other things on the longer term agenda. Life could not feel more different, more beautiful, bright and wonderful and this evening I’m off to meet a horse who I will hopefully get to do some yoga with. What has really struck me through this journey is the open-hearted generosity and good will of strangers which makes me wish that the word did not exist and could be replaced with friends-to-be or extended family members. That, I believe, is what yoga is about. To those who have supported me in various ways, I simply cannot thank you enough.
I learned to trust that I deserved better and that it would come as long as I kept my heart open in return. I realise now that I was never alone and neither are you so go out and chase your dreams too. Booking a reiki session may be the best thing you ever do as I am sure that it is this energy which has been supporting me this whole time too.
Here I am now, working as a healer in Winscombe, fully open for business!
YOGA BRISTOL : FREESTYLE VINYASA YOGA BRISTOL : YOGA WINSCOMBE : FREESTYLE VINYASA YOGA WINSCOMBE : YOGA MENDIPS : YOGA CHEDDAR : REIKI WINSCOMBE : REIKI NORTH SOMERSET : REIKI BRISTOL : REIKI CHEDDAR