My Yoga Journey
From Yoga student to Yoga teacher. By Natasha Winder
I started my Yoga journey aged 5 years old.
1981 – my grandmother was practicing yoga and I was mesmerised by the shapes she made with her body, I asked if I could learn the shapes too.
Every weekend I would go to my Ballet lessons and then head to my grandmother’s house to learn more yoga, I thought of Ballet & Yoga as the same thing, I was just making shapes with my body, moving from one to another. Looking back now I realised I had fallen in love with that connection of moving my body, being completely at one, comfortable, free and enjoying how natural it felt.
As I grew older my surroundings, influences, family life and interests moved away from Ballet & Yoga. I became a teenager, and my interests grew towards harmful endeavours, my mind and body shrinking my soul and living life ruled by ego; I was on self-destruct instead of self-discovery.
In yoga I had discovered the sun that lit up my life, that made me feel connected to my true self, but I was growing up, a huge part of me thought or I was quickly learning that the real world was tough, mean and happiness was a delusion. Escaping from reality at any and every given chance was my coping mechanism to navigating through life’s ups & downs.
Into my mid 20’s and I had hit rock bottom, I turned to my grandmother for help, and she urged me to go back to Yoga (she practiced yoga everyday well into her 90’s, she always said it was the reason for her health and long life). She gave me an old Yoga book with the basic asanas, I started practicing my own little routine & my body & mind became stronger again. I was shocked at how much I had remembered and how my body instinctively knew how to move from one asana to the next.
Many more years went by and every time I had any kind of stresses or worries my grandmother would guide me back to my yoga practice. Surely enough each time I did practice, Yoga was there like and old friend to hold my hand and guide me back to the sun and the light.
Over the years I attended some in person classes, tried DVD’s and then eventually online Yoga (YouTube) etc, each time dropping in & out, never fully committing to a daily practice or routine.
Spring 2020 I am now 44 years old – Covid-19 hit the UK & we went into full lockdown, my physical and mental health took a massive nosedive, I spiralled down into a dark deep hole, gaining weight, drinking too much alcohol, feeling alone, depressed and lost. I was unhappy in my relationship, and I was unhappy with myself and my life. I changed my job, left my relationship and moved house all in a couple of months; in the attempt to gain happiness. The temporary ‘happiness’ came but it wasn’t full capacity, I felt something was still missing. I was still looking at the outside influences in my life not the inside (I still did not understand how to work on myself…. Not fully and not yet)!
I dug deep, took the time to understand and learn about myself, who I was and what I wanted. I took steps to become healthier, eating better, drinking less, going out into the mountains & connecting with nature. I started to practice yoga every morning, just 10 to 15 mins at first building up to 60 mins, feeling/craving more.
Yoga became my focus, I could feel myself becoming younger, I was reversing the years, my health improved massively, I was more confident, I lost 2 ½ stone in weight I walked taller with more energy, purpose and meaning. The benefits I felt physically and mentally blew me away, I was on the very first few miles of my path but didn’t fully realise it just yet.
I attended a local Yoga class, and the teacher was wonderful, her class felt fresh, energetic and welcoming. I felt like I finally belonged, I was doing what was meant for me.
That night when I got home, I made the decision I wanted/needed to be a Yoga teacher, that was where my path was guiding me. I looked online for local Yoga schools, but I had work commitments and couldn’t take the time off to attend a school fulltime. I came across Kashish Yoga School in India & their class schedule was all online. Also, more importantly I could pay instalments for my course fees.
I sent them a message straight away and enrolled on their 200hrs YTTC a few days later, I started in August 2021 and graduated in November 2021. My time learning with Kashish has been amazing, I felt a huge shift in my life, my outlook, my confidence, I fell in love with myself, my body, my mind and found my soul reach out to me and thank me for the gifts and doors I was now opening.
The philosophy side was not what I was expecting, I learned so much and my whole perspective of myself and the world was tipped upside down, I was finally awake! Yin practice released all my stuck emotions and pranayama improved my Asthma. My whole body & mind were shifting up levels each day, the transformation was unbelievable.
A few weeks before I graduated my 200 hrs training, I started practicing teaching with friends, family and work colleagues, gaining confidence and learning how best to structure my classes. At first, I was nervous, awkward and made plenty of mistakes, but I learned so much, I gained confidence and relaxed a little more each class I taught.
By the beginning of November 2021, I had found 3 different venues to rent and run my own classes plus 1-2-1s in my own yoga studio at home, I advertised on social media and put up flyers and posters locally. I also set up an online booking system where my students could book onto my classes and pay direct. I was overwhelmed by the response and all my classes filled up; I was finally teaching Yoga!!
I settled into working full-time (office work) and teaching (part-time) in the evenings and weekends, but it was tough, I was tired, and I found myself drained of energy, my own self-practice being neglected, unable to fully meditate or connect with nature not nearly enough.
I started ‘Fell Top Yoga’ a class that took my students up into the mountains & fells of Cumbria, this enabled me to have that connection with nature, to climb mountains (another of my passions) whilst teaching yoga and combining the two biggest loves of my ‘now’ life. I started to feel an urge to practice and teach more Yoga outdoors, I am now looking for more outdoor spaces, full moon yoga, sunrise & sunset yoga, the ideas are endless.
I have finally found myself, I have come full circle, finding the same feelings I had as a child with my grandmother, connecting with my body, becoming a child again. Laughing louder, smiling longer, standing taller, feet firmly on the ground and in tune with every inch of my higher sense of intuition.
My Yoga journey has been more of an awakening to my true self, being at one with my own beautiful and wonderful soul, welcoming the open doors to where and what I am meant to be. Teaching me how strong my mind and body truly are. Connecting with Kashish tutors, fellow students and my own students has been inspirational and awe-inspiring. ‘The gift of giving is the greatest gift of all’ these words resonate with me more each class I teach. Hoping that every person I meet experiences the joy and wonder of Yoga as I have.
Being a Yoga teacher (now I have got passed the nerves) feels like the most natural, creative and expressive form of living, it feels so much a part of my life as eating and breathing, my true passion for life. The learning and thirst for knowledge has only just begun.
As I near the end of 300 hrs YTTC and looking forward to Tantra Teacher Training starting in a few weeks. I have quit my 9-5 full time office job, giving me more time to focus on teaching my own Yoga students. I now have a job working with outdoor activities plus teaching Yoga in hotels.
The opportunities and adventures I feel coming my way are countless and could only be limited by my own self-doubts and beliefs, something I feel I am becoming more aware of. Manifesting my own reality, having faith, determination, focused vision, less doubt, feeling in tune with myself and others around me. Knowing & feeling energy as if it something I can see (with my third eye)….. YOGA!
Forever grateful to –
My grandmother Alice - an absolute inspiration and legend in her own right, who I miss every day.
All the tutors and admin staff at Kashish Yoga School, who are there for us 24/7 (do you guys never sleep)?
My fellow students on both YTT Courses, the support and love we all share, helping each other through the tough times, learning Sanskrit, long hours and ASHTANGA Vinyasa!!
My own students (in person, online & 1-2-1), who I love each and every one dearly, I feel so very proud, and lucky to be given the opportunity to teach and be a part of their journey, sharing and guiding them with compassion and patience.
To myself for having the idea, guts and commitment to do something that has changed my life forever.
Yoga teacher living in the Lake District, UK.
Surrounded by Mountains & Lakes, passionate about outdoor Yoga.