Can yoga really be transformative? Kat Farrants, founder of MFML, shares how life transformed her Yoga, and how Yoga transformed her life.
Before I go into how transformative yoga can be, I will start with this little reminder… life is constantly evolving and unfolding, and whether we realise it or not, life transforms us.
Once upon a Time
I used to be the kind of ‘bendy’ yogi who just moved, pretty impressively, through some advanced shapes. I was at the front of every class showing off – a skinny, bendy blonde.
Sadly, there still seems to be a certain ‘yoga type’ who puts off so many of us who would benefit from the transformation.
A Shock To The System
My yoga transformed after a car crash which left me with limited mobility for months and has forever changed my body. This traumatic transformation made me realise I was no longer going to be validated by the shapes I could make with my body. Now it was just little naked me and my breath.
When my body was recovering, I underwent another massive blow to my spirit. Completely out of the blue, my husband and partner of 16 years left me. The house was sold and I was left jobless and homeless, staying on a friend’s air mattress in her front room. (forever grateful, Marion! Thank you!)
Of course, the hurt, shock and pain of these things is unbelievable, it is no exaggeration to say that I really believed my life was over, even though people tried to convince me that this would just be a chapter in my story.
I Hardly Recognised Myself
Then came the inevitable summer spent drinking, dancing, giggling and crying with friends. After the parties stopped and the summer was over, the dust started settling in my new life.
I tentatively stepped back on the mat. There were no fancy shapes, hardly any breath, all that came were tears.
It took me a long time to be able to take my first vinyasa class, and even when I did, it really hurt. Whilst all the partying seemed to have healed some of my surface pain, it became apparent as I began to move, that the hurt had just accumulated into a little ball in my insides.
As I moved and breathed, the pain flooded out. The physical pain of my accident and the emotional pain from my ‘abandonment’. I took myself on a yoga retreat, where I continued to move through layers of this pain, and also my bruised ego for not being the bendy one at the front of class anymore.
I had transformed completely. Life changed me. My body was nothing like it was, my spirit was unrecognisable. I hardly recognised myself.
Transformation: Fast or Slow
It occurred to me – Sometimes the changes are small and gradual, inconspicuous daily changes. Decades can go by without us noticing this transformation, until we pause and look in the mirror, or at our partner, or look back on events we experienced or choices we made, and that’s when we realise how far we have come. We realised how much we have transformed along the way.
Sometimes, of course, the transformation is more sudden. As a result of a trauma, a big life event, or something else that smacks you in the face! (Like my enforced transformation from Asana-goddess to wreck shivering in the kitchen, lonely and abandoned!)
The reality is the only constant in life is change. Life is continually transforming and evolving. Whether we pay attention to it or not.
The reality is the only constant in life is change. Life is continually transforming and evolvingKat Farrants
The Power of Choices
The question is, how do we cope with these changes? We have the power to choose. Are we fighting change and trying to swim upstream? Or do we learn the skills to transform with life, respond to changes, and learn and grow.
For me, it wasn’t until I was absolutely broken in body and soul, that I started to wake up and realise that my yoga practice had been training me and meant I had the power to make this choice wisely.
Through my tears on my yoga mat it dawned on me that just as I had the power to move my body around the mat consciously, I also had the power to move myself through my life. I didn’t have to be thrown about in the sea, I could steer the ship.
My focus was no longer on the shapes and my ego (as I was like a tin-man!). Instead I focused on my breath. I deepened my breath, down into my rib-cage, through the pain of my broken ribs. With every painful breath came more power. Strength grew in my body and mind. I got strong through breathing. I started to make very active, conscious choices. So much so that on that fateful day when my boss told me that ‘I was too creative’, I was powerful enough to say, yes, yes I am. And I quit my job that day.
I quit my job with no plans in sight. My breathing practice had given me strength and made me strong enough to live a life of truth and integrity, whatever that looked like.
So that was the commitment I made to myself overlooking St Paul’s in an office in the city. To live a life of truth and integrity, and to follow my dharma.
At the time I had no idea what that was, or what my dharma was – but from taking back my power and making choices, I had clarity that I wouldn’t find what I was looking for at that desk in the city.
The Difference Between Shapes And Yoga
Although I had practiced shapes for decades, it took this huge life trauma for me to practice yoga, that is daily conscious movement and breath. When that is a daily practice, that practice seeps into every aspect of life. Yoga isn’t done on the mat, it is done with each breath, awake or asleep. When we take yoga off the mat and take the lessons into our lives, this is when the transformation happens.
Equanimity In The Sensation
Change is inevitable in life. Ups and downs are inevitable. Grief and heartbreak will happen. They have happened before and will happen again. But what isn’t inevitable is your response to these things.
I know how useful yoga has been for me in my own transformation. A daily practice can really be vital in helping you transform your mind, body and outlook on life too. It’s a simple fact that every moment of every day, we change. Our bodies and cells replenish and transform, we come across new situations, and people. Life is renewed every moment of every day.
The Transformation Course with Zephyr Wildman has really helped me to remember that change is inevitable. It is a collection of classes, insights and tools to help us embrace the changes of life in a positive, healthy way for our body and mind.
There is a comfort as I remember again that everything will pass, good and bad. What is important is to be present and appreciate each moment and I try to embrace the pain as well as the pleasure! Yoga is not always comfortable and it trains us to find equanimity in all sensations, and handle them with a relaxed face and deep breath.
Discipline and Courage are Transformative
I truly believe yoga is the best training for dealing with life’s challenges. We find discipline and courage to practice despite urges to flop infront of the TV. This build strength to helps us deal with the discipline to succeed in anything in life.
As yogis, we are armed! We are grounded by our breath and our practice and these teach us not be swayed by the dramas of life. We have a knowledge that the change can be directed by us, that our emotions can be watched, they don’t need to be participated in.
That each thought, each intention, each deep breath, is meaningful and will lead to a different path than would have happened otherwise.
That every moment we change, every moment we transform, and that yoga gives us the power to use this transformation to follow our heart’s desires.
Yoga as a Tool
As you can tell, Yoga is an indispensable tool in my toolkit. Yoga continues to help me deal with the challenges, and the ups and downs of life. I have done the Transformation Course with Zephyr several times, and every time it reminds me of ways to take everything I learn on the mat off the mat. This course never fails to remind me that Yoga truly deepens and improves all the experiences in my life.
Zephyr is teaching a live workshop at the end of April, this is an opportunity to deepen your yoga practice using the five basic elements of nature. Zephyr is such a fabulous teacher and she skilfully integrates yoga philosophy and life lessons into an explorative vinyasa class.
For me this combination of movement and philosophy is vital for taking your yoga off the mat and feeling armed to deal with life’s inevitable transformations, again and again and again.
Written by Kat Farrants, founder of Movement for Modern Life.
Committing to practice every single day – even just a little – is the best way to begin your transformative journey with yoga. Have you tried the Transformation Course with Zephyr Wildman? It is a great way to get started and begging to transform your outlook in life, mind and body. The classes are short – just 20-30 minutes per day – and are made up of yoga postures, meditation, breathing and thoughtful insights. This really is all you need to start making a difference to how you feel about your whole life.