The quieter you become, the more you can hear
I started practicing yoga 18 years ago following having sciatica and pelvic pain. Also suffering from anxiety and a high alert state as a young adult, self-medication in numerous ways was a habitual pattern. Rather than really dealing with the roots of these imbalances, I pushed through, achieving within my working life. The climb was steep, and many scars had been collected on the way. I was a master at hiding my experiences and how I truly felt. I was disconnected from myself and an expert on keeping busy.
Rather than continue to take pain killers for sciatica, yoga entered my life after stumbling across a Yang style yoga video at a yard sale.
Initially, due to social anxiety it was very much a personal self-taught practice not entering a public class for two years. I was completing a Yang style practice and had little knowledge of all the different styles of yoga. I had learned the video off by heart and would just add my own transitions of the poses to mix it up. My practice healed my physical pain, I felt flexible and loose in my body, I no longer took painkillers, I felt light again.
I fell into Yin yoga organically by just allowing my body to relax completely whilst in a seated forward bend now known as Caterpillar. I was completing a Vinyasa home practice following a busy day at work. I was a Probation Officer during this time; working with both adult and young offenders; I had a heavy caseload and if you are integrated on both sides of the Criminal Justice system it can play havoc with your emotions, particularly if you’re a sensitive empathic soul.
In this practice on this day, I just literally allowed myself to stop, to accept I was too tired to keep going with the Vinyasa, and literally let go of all effort. Energetically something shifted.
This evening literally changed my practice. Suddenly I felt a release within my lower back that felt so much deeper than a strong muscular stretch. This deep fascial opening allowed a connection with my body I had not achieved before within my Yang style practice, I also felt relieved emotionally to just be with the stillness and softness of a shape, I felt truly present to what was there physically and emotionally. This stillness allowed me to hear myself and provided the sacred space to finally begin to listen.
So, I had begun my personal Yin yoga journey of making shapes. I still had not completed any training in yoga and literally just followed my instincts in what my body needed and what felt good. I didn’t realize I had been practicing Yin yoga as a specific style until I came across an article years later.
Submerging into Yin Yoga turned my life around in terms of healing, overcoming the many layers and attributes of social anxiety and dealing with associated physical pain and in-balance, and reconnecting with myself as well as with others. The philosophy of Taoism, understanding our connection with the elements, seasons, together with our own personal patterns and mirrors has allowed me to have a better understanding of energetic connectivity. How we are both receivers and contributors to the energy that surrounds us, and to see our own life situations and challenges as sacred messages and opportunities for growth. This responsibility feels empowering. To understand such connections allows me to be compassionate, to truly forgive, to stay present, and to nurture all that is within. Yin yoga provides me the space for reflection and contemplation and to get to truly know all sides of myself.
I decided to become qualified to teach yoga whilst still a Probation Officer and taught evening work until eventually, I wanted to teach full time. As a highly sensitive individual teaching, yoga enables tapping into skills to help others rather than feeling disconnected from the world. I am passionate about how yoga empowers people in the healing process. Rather, than being a passive recipient of treatment, the student is actively engaged in the path to their own well-being, and I see my role, as a teacher, is to guide you to listen and be present to your own subtle messages your body offers and directing you to the tools to connect and re-balance; teaching you the way to implement these tools.
My website akirayoga was found after researching my name and finding out Akira is Japanese for Claire and then researching further to find Akira stands for ‘graceful strength’ in Sanskrit. For me, this fitted perfectly with the message I wanted to put out there; the contrast between the strength and power of a yang practice compared to the grace and surrender within a yin practice as I enjoy the beautiful flow between the two extremes
My advice to anyone practicing yoga is to honor the messages of the body, you really are your own guru. When we sit in silence, we can begin to hear ourselves, instinctively you will know what to do; our own body holds the wisdom and you will learn to completely trust yourself. Some days we do need a Yang style practice and some days Yin. They both have their benefits. When we can learn to tap into what best suits our body and mind at that moment by truly listening, our yoga practice provides an effective tool for re-balance and wellbeing.
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