Meet our brand new columnist, Kate Blake. Kate’s column will tell how yoga has brought joy into a life changed by illness and share tips about the best classes to choose. Watch this space for your guide to yoga in a chronically fatigued body.
Tell us a little bit about you ….
Hi. I am 55, married with two grown up children. I used to be a primary school teacher, a job which I loved. 7 years ago, I became ill, unable to walk and was ultimately ‘diagnosed’ with CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. My life shrank in every way. I am beginning to be able to get out of the house a couple of times a week in a wheelchair. My life is tiny but within it I enjoy to the maximum: the birds in the garden, my two pet Guinea pigs (my 50th birthday present from my family!), my family, changing seasons, fresh air, weather, listening to audio books and tiny sessions of patchwork and quilting.
Why do you love yoga?
Before I was ill I was fit and particularly enjoyed running in the local countryside. I felt strongly that it was good for my soul not just my body and for a long time simply yearned to be able to do it again. I am discovering that yoga can fulfil that need in me, that connection within myself of body, breath, emotion, spirit and with nature and the universe. I love the quiet space it gives me in the day, the escape from doing and thinking, the acceptance of what my body can do and the joy I feel in the way it can move.
Why do you practice with MFML?
I am currently unable to go out to a class, and although I have tried a few since being ill, I have not found one that suits my needs. MFML gives me the chance to work with my own body, learn more fully about it, listen more carefully and build trust in it for myself. I like the connection with yoga teachers and the yoga world that MFML gives me. It is hugely different from practising alone. I like the ethos and the wisdom of the teachers and Kat Farrants.
Describe your daily yoga routine
I have persuaded my husband to try yoga so he and I practise daily at about 5 o’clock which feels a good time for me. It provides a space and change of pace between day and evening and both relaxes and re- energises me for the evening. He has worked through the beginner challenge and now is trying other classes. We start and finish together and, while he follows the class I listen to all the wise teaching while mostly doing my own slow lying down moves and poses, joining in with the class whenever something fits my own routine, or trying something new as a challenge. I also do one of the breathing/ yoga nidra/ relaxation/ meditation classes every morning before lunch.
How does yoga benefit your life?
Yoga makes me feel whole. I feel connected to and accepting of where my body is at the moment, a state which I often find hard to achieve in daily life! It calms my mind, strengthens my spirit and self confidence. I am developing a relationship with my body which I have never had, where I listen and respect, nudging at boundaries appropriately instead of pushing. I feel that it will also lead me towards a more comfortable relationship with all aspects of me: emotions, mind, spirit as well as body. Sharing the practice with my husband is also a huge mutual benefit.
Why would you encourage someone who is new to yoga to start practicing?
I think the key thing would be about self discovery. It is so easy to make assumptions about yoga, but it is only in the practising that you can discover the reality of it. It’s exciting. I feel inspired because I know I am only a short way into my journey, but already my experience has changed my understanding of it and myself. It’s a fantastic, probably never ending adventure. Who knows what else is round the corner?