Why I teach Yoga

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The first yoga class I ever took was in the students union in college. The class was full and I don’t remember what style of yoga it was but just that I was stiff and tight and could do very little of the postures. But more so than that I remember the Savasana, the final relaxation. I lay down with everyone else and closed my eyes and then like torture felt my heart beating so fast and thoughts of ‘what ifs’ spinning around the most awful stories in my head. Anxiety.

This period of my life was when I first experienced anxiety. It started with not being able to sleep at night, tossing and turning for hours. My heartbeat seemed to beat at a faster pace than it ever had before. I had diarrhoea with nerves and lost weight. At the time, I was doing a Mental Health module as part of my Social Work training and sure enough I had my self diagnosed. “Suffering from anxiety”.  At one point I was looking at “Schizophrenia”. I had these voices in my head and I became fearful of my own mind and did not want to be left alone with myself.

Well it turns out that everyone has these ‘voices’ in their head. Some people call it ‘The Voice’ or what Freud called the super-ego. This Voice is important, we need this voice. It tells us not to put our hand in the fire and not to walk out into traffic. But what nobody told me back then is it also tells you other stuff that is not necessarily true. The Voice talks bullshit! It tells you that you are not good enough, that you are too fat, too ugly, too stupid etc etc. And back then I knew no different but to believe it. If you believe and live in that story it’s hard to see the bright side to life. If you are living in the past or the future you are missing out on today which is really all we have.

In school we learn about success but not happiness. We learn reading, writing and maths but not about the voice in your head that might be your biggest obstacle in life. Our rates of anxiety and depression are staggering. Our rate of sleep dysfunction and the number of people taking sleeping aids is phenomenal. Our rates of suicide in this country are alarming. And I believe a lot of this is down to believing that voice in your head and living in your story.

So I didn’t go back to that yoga class again. In fact it was awhile before I went to any other yoga class and when I found the right classes and the right teachers I was hooked. Through my yoga practice (and this is exactly what it is- a practice not a magic pill!) I found that I could move out of my story, out of my head and into my body. What relief! I understand the nervous system better and how I can use my breathing to calm myself and stay in the present moment and I finish every practice with gratitude.

We all have a story but it is just that. It is a story. I can attach myself to mine or I can practice living in the moment. All I have to offer is my own experience of life and the reason I teach yoga is to share what I have learned along the way through yoga and from other teachers outside of ‘yoga’ too. If my classes work for you then brilliant.  If not then maybe try another style, another teacher, another therapy.  All these practices are paths all leading to the same destination. Happiness. Contentment. Santosha. Love. Bliss.  Call it what you like!


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Student Review

"Gillian’s yoga teaching style is unique and very flowing. It is great for strength and flexibility and I really notice a difference after just a few months. More so, I am more relaxed and content the rest of the time and feel like my busy life with 3 kids and a full time job is not so hard anymore."


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