Yoga Changed my Life graphic

After experiencing knee issues resulting in surgery, yoga helped to completely transform Sheena Shah’s health, wellbeing and sense of purpose

Yoga Changed My Life - Sheena Shah
  • NAME: Sheena Shah
  • AGE: 32
  • OCCUPATION: Yoga Teacher
  • YOGA YEARS: 13+

Why did you start yoga

Growing up as a child, my knees dislocated constantly and I fell over almost every day while going down the stairs, playing sports, or even just walking. When I turned 19, doctors told me that without surgery on both my knees, I would most likely end up in a wheelchair by the time I was 30. I had my first knee operation during my second year of university.

It was a challenging time for me because I had also recently gone through a break-up, which had knocked my confidence and affected my mental health. I felt anxious and alone, and I was desperately looking for something that would help me heal and give me the strength to keep going. When I told my parents what I was going through, they gave me a copy of the Bhagavad Gita to read and encouraged me to start yoga. Little did I know when I went to my first class just how deeply I would fall in love with yoga, and how much it was about to change my life.

Favourite yoga haunts

My favourite place to practice yoga is in nature — on a beach, in the garden or by a lake. I also love attending the meditation services held at The Self-Realisation Fellowship centre in Baker Street, London. It is a sanctuary for my soul, and I always feel so peaceful and light inside when I leave.

How has yoga changed your life?

Yoga has given me the confidence to conquer my limiting beliefs and achieve things both on and off my yoga mat that I never thought would be possible for someone like me. My strength and balance improved so much after just two years of practicing yoga that my doctor cancelled the second surgery I was due to have on my other knee, and told me to “go back home and keep doing the yoga instead!”

Studying yoga philosophy in depth and meditating regularly has completely transformed my mindset and outlook on life. I’ve gone from being a shy, timid girl who was too afraid to ask for salt in a restaurant, to an empowered woman who shares what’s in her heart and soul with the world. I wake up every morning happy and grateful to be alive. And I feel like a spiritual warrior inside, ready to conquer whatever challenges come my way.

Best yoga moment

Being able to share yoga with others and seeing the positive impact it makes in their lives is what lights me up the most: watching a video a mum sends me of her seven-year-old daughter teaching her cousins how to do tree pose and meditate; seeing people who had never met before come to my retreats, open their hearts, and become life-long friends; receiving a message from a student saying that attending my classes has turned her life around so much that it’s inspired her to become a yoga teacher too. These moments are so beautiful and sacred to me, and they keep me grounded in my purpose

Anything else

Here are three little reminders I wrote to myself in my journal recently: (1) When you take a leap outside your comfort zone, you won’t fall. You’ll fly. (2) There is a spiritual gift hidden in every moment. Look for it. (3) Be still and listen to the whispers of your soul. It is guiding you towards the light.

Sheena Shah is the founder of Yoga With Sheena ( Connect on Instagram @yogawithsheena

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.