Maria's yoga story - or, why does she love yoga so much?
I started doing yoga when I was a teenager and quickly fell in love with it. My guide at the time was a then-famous book called Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan, by Richard Hittleman which some of you may remember as it became very popular. I followed the plan in that book faithfully for a long time!
As life moved on I became involved in other things and yoga took a back seat for a number of years, until an old childhood hip injury began to plague me. It caused painful problems for my lower back and I suffered with sciatica (pains down from the spine along the side of the leg). I tried a number of holistic therapies: massage, Egoscue, acupressure… all helped, but temporarily. The tightness always returned shortly after treatment. Finally I remembered the yoga I had so loved in my teens and twenties. Although it wasn’t a quick fix, in time the problem was sorted through yoga.
It wasn’t just a physical solution that yoga provided. I learned that ever since my injury, I had held deep, habitual tension in the right side of my hip that I wasn’t even aware of. I learned how to release the tension and the fear that went with it, and to bring back a full range of motion of the hip. To this day if I am feeling tense, my ‘Achilles Heel’ is that hip and it is the first place where tension gathers. So this is a continuing journey of self-awareness!
I also found that yoga helped me to feel centred, to feel at ease with my body and self, to feel more in my body in a generous way rather than contracted and tight or disconnected. It gives me inner focus and patience. Well, more patience than I would have had if I didn't practice yoga, I think!
Yoga teacher training
I trained as a fitness instructor in 2006, continuing my training in 2007 to become a personal trainer. But something was missing for me, interested though I was in physical fitness. I realised that I was just as interested in self-discovery and a deeper sense of health; the external aspect of body fitness wasn't enough. In 2008 I started training at Yogacampus in London and qualified as a yoga teacher in 2009. This was deeply exciting and since then I have loved working with people of all ages teaching yoga. I have personally worked with both Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga, and have adapted some of the best aspects of both styles in my teaching. I find the study of anatomy and physiology truly exciting!
More and more I realise that the secret in yoga is to allow the body to release in the postures and the breathwork. The more I can let go of tension or holding, without becoming floppy, the more I can access the postures and tune in to what my body - and soul, and spirit even - need. And the more I feel the joyful 'completeness' that a good yoga session can bring to all parts of my being.
In 2019 I completed a three-year training in dance and movement psychotherapy, which complements and informs my yoga teaching in a very satisfying and exciting way. Further training has led me to become a Transformational Coach and Facilitator (Workshop Leader), a deeply exciting progression.