Over the past five years, I have busily blended growing a new family with a career. Life as a working Mum was moving so fast I was blind to the affect it was having on my body. All of a sudden, I found myself completely unprepared for what the universe had in store for me next. Shingles. The brutal and agonising pain of shingles right in the middle of my back. At the time I had no idea what was wrong with me let alone that this condition was here to stay indefinitely in the form of Post Herpetic Neuralgia.
Whilst it has been over a year now since I became unwell, I still have sensations and a low level neuropathic pain just humming away constantly in the background. It never disappears completely so my challenge is to manage it on a daily basis and try to stay positive. Stress and fatigue exacerbate it so my life now is simple on purpose. The realisation of this persistent pain was the start of a whole life change, a physical and mental battle, and dare I say, a massive 'A-ha' moment.
I burnt out in a fabulous fashion. I suffered repeated colds and flus, fatigue and immune dysfunction due to my inability to switch off the stress response and switch on the relaxation response. In 'fight or flight' mode, the adrenals keep secreting the stress hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol never allowing the body to return to normal function via the parasympathetic nervous system. By the time I was 35, my poor adrenals refused to handle the load anymore, so I began to pay attention. I was told I had to do everything 50% slower which felt like slow motion to me. Hence the beginning of my passion for slow motion yoga.
My background includes working for 15 years in the corporate world for various medical companies. In the year 2010 I had my first baby closely followed by my second baby twelve months later. Returning to work then with two small children was a whole new ball game.
As Arianna Huffington puts it, 'This notion of women 'having it all', in which working to the point of exhaustion and burnout is considered a badge of honour, was put in place by a workplace culture dominated by men and testosterone. It's a model of success that is not working for women unless you prefer to take the heart attack highway to stress city. It's going to be women who lead the way to create this third metric of success beyond money and power known simply as wellbeing.'
These words inspired me to think what would my life look like if I wasn't so busy, stressed and in pain all the time. Why am I doing this to myself? So I walked into the office one day and quit my job. Gosh it sounds so irresponsible when I write it like that, but sometimes, as a woman, you just need to listen to your intuition. And it was of course spot on.
Life is already too short and I didn't want to spend another second working through the pain. Slow motion yoga and mindfulness during those tough times, gave me the mastery and control I craved over my situation. It also opened my eyes to what 'self care' is all about. I immediately decided I wanted to know everything about the slower healing practices so enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training course and began my journey as an enthusiastic student with an open mind. Hopefully preparing me to share the yogi wisdom with my fellow sisters so we can take the scary steps together and live the life we truly want .
It is my opinion that most mums fantasize about having some alone time. Don't you wish someone would give you a 'time out' for a change so that you can restore yourself in a kid free zone? Women tend to give and give until there is no more. For me, self care is doing something each day that brings me joy and replenishes me.
It is not necessarily the latest fitness trend which I feel like yoga has become. If I wanted to bust out a different yoga pose each day contorting myself into an unrealistic shape for many and then upload it onto my Instagram page I would, but I don't really see how that would benefit anyone. I will however continue to believe and express yoga as a great way to re-fill your energy tank and support the mind so you can find calm and stillness amongst the chaos. Far more helpful to life off the mat.
What I wish for out of this blog is for more women to not be intimidated or 'put off' during their first yoga class so that they can experience the true benefits. Especially when they feel exhausted and burnt out already. Hey, if you're broken, I'll take you! But most of all, I just want to be a good role model to my two gorgeous daughters.
Here's to strong women,
May we know them,
May we be them,
May we raise them.