Finding Yoga

Finding Yoga

Coping with loss is perhaps one of the hardest feelings in the world. Gaia Founder & Director, Diane Nettleton shares how yoga has helped her to find strength both mentally and physically through difficult times...

I've never been particularly bendy, athletic or good at standing on my head. I could never do a cartwheel so at the age of 48 I wasn't quite sure yoga would be for me.  I'd tried it a few years earlier in a class.  I felt awkward, inflexible, self conscious and decided it just wasn't for me.

So why the turnaround?

My husband had died. Eleven months later I was still emotionally all over the place. Not sleeping, vivid flashbacks, a state of anxiety, the fight or flight mode. I've always been a positive person, logical and methodical.  A glass half full sort of person but this had turned my world upside down. My other half was missing and life will never be the same. I wasn’t the same.  I searched for help in books, going away, staying at home, making new friends, opening myself to every opportunity, eating healthy, indulging myself, working hard, or just lying on the bed.  Nothing made me feel better.  My brain felt it was bursting, there was no room for anything other than thoughts of my husband.

So I decided to try yoga again. I asked Sarah who taught a class at the hotel for some private lessons. She came to my house. I felt the house needed some positive energy so I lit a candle, opened the doors to let the fresh air in, took the phone off the hook and we began.  I learnt the basics, downward dog, sun salutations, tree poses, camel and the list goes on.  For a full hour I had to concentrate, follow instructions.

As the weeks went by I learnt to breathe. Proper breathing that was calming. Sometimes at the end I cried, sometimes I felt energised, sometimes calmer. I became more flexible and could see improvements in poses and stretches.  I bought some new yoga clothes. I found myself some mornings practising poses, balances.  The weather improved and so did my yoga practice. The wind apparently unbalances your mind as well as your body. It was true when it was windy I felt unsettled, restless but calm sunny days brought a stillness that helped. We practised outside with the beach behind us.

I formed a friendship with Sarah.  She was lovely, patient, kind.  Occasionally I just couldn't carry on so we'd just sit with a herbal tea.  During this time I also lost my dad. Sarah arrived with chocolate (organic) and strawberries. One day I asked her if we could go down the garden to practice.  I had a surprise.  I'd had a yoga pavilion built close to the beach.  It is beautiful, sturdy, strong, a shelter for us to do our yoga. Sarah was surprised to say the least. She said most people get a new top not build a pavilion!! It was inspired by my trip to Bali earlier in the year.

In December after my father’s funeral I went to Australia for a month. Whilst I was staying on the Gold Coast, Coolangata I decide to try a yoga class.  I found one just down the road from where I was staying.  I loved the early mornings in Australia and felt quite at home walking down the road and joining in classes. I went every day for a week.  My practice felt good and I felt physically stronger and healthier.

On my return Sarah had gone away so I bought a DVD and practised myself.  However, I felt I needed a class so went a few times to a group class nearby. I'm not really into group classes so I've had a couple of months now without practising but I miss my hour a week where I concentrate on my body, breathing and clear my mind so I have just found a new teacher and hope that I will continue to improve both physically and mentally.