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Moving On!

How yoga taught me how to get the strength, resilience and courage to transition from lawyer to starting my own online yoga business

I’d love to introduce myself to you. I went from living life half-dead, to waking up in every possible way – starting my own successful tech start-up from scratch, on my own, in the middle of my life.

I get to live a life I never even dreamed I could live. My heart’s desire is to show you how you too can thrive, and build a life you’ve always dreamed of.

Or, perhaps you don’t even know your dream yet? My daily practices helped me to find my Dharma (my life’s purpose) and revealed the power of living intentionally. Yoga also helped to heal my physical and emotional wounds and is my daily toolkit for thriving through the unrelenting challenges that we call ‘modern life’.

I will bring you my own transformation story, with all the trials, challenges and the lessons I learnt along the way, not just the shiny, version, but the real deal – raw, true, honest – of how I let go and moved on.

People say that adversity makes you stronger. People say that you need to be at rock bottom before you can rise up. Happily enveloped in my former life, I thought that these were just old cliches. But for me, they became my truth.

I had the dream life. The life you’re told that you really want. Gorgeous, wealthy husband who I’d been going out with for 18 years since we’d met in my first year of university. Fabulous house in the countryside. Working as a lawyer in the top human rights law firm in the UK. Lavish spa and private island holidays. Peachy, easy, privileged. I’d practiced yoga since my teens, but my yoga was very much like the rest of my life – it looked fabulous on the outside, but not much else going on within. My yoga was physically challenging – a work-out like no other! I found myself easily reaching tricky poses and revelled in my gruelling ashtanga practice. I’m just grateful that back in my twenties social media hadn’t been discovered – I really would’ve ticked every cliched box: ‘bendy, blonde, beach, bikini, yoga girl.’

But the sad truth for me was that a cushioned life meant that there was no room for growth. I had the perfect picture, but just like those glossy prints, it was two dimensional. It wasn’t as if I’d never experienced troubles – only a couple of years before it happened, I’d been in a near-death car crash which had rendered me immobile for months. The thing about comfort zones is that they’re very, ahem, comfortable. Too comfortable for even a car crash to jolt me out of.

The crash taught me what I now see as the most important aspect of yoga – breath work. I’d always thought that yoga was all about making fancy shapes, but when I couldn’t move, I had to find a way through all of the pain, grief and anguish, in order to carry on connecting with myself. With a punctured lung and broken ribs, even breathing hurt. I think that’s a really powerful metaphor for life at rock bottom – the simplest things become the hardest. I felt broken, inside and out. And from that place of utter desolation, I slowly started, one breath at a time, to learn the real healing power of yoga. Yoga wasn’t about making fancy shapes, it was about finding the places in your body that need your love.

During the healing process, everything changed. The man I’d given my life to had clearly decided that wounded, hurt and immobile was not for him (even short-term). Two years after the crash I received a phone call from my husband informing me that he’d found someone else and wouldn’t be back.

And that was it… no home (because it was his), no job (because I’d been signed off work after the crash), no husband (because because because).

Every tiny edifice on which I hung my life had walked out on me. I was left very much alone.

The truth had now become undeniable. From the darkest place – from having nothing and being nowhere – I had to start living my life.

Maybe it was that I had just turned 35. I’d always thought that all the work and time I’d invested into this career meant that I couldn’t change it. I suddenly realised even though I’d invested 15 years into this career, hell, I’ve another 35 years of work ahead of me!

Or maybe it was realising that the best case scenario for the next 35 years was getting the window office. Or maybe I just couldn’t stand living my life half-dead for one more moment. Or maybe it was the little Venn diagram I compiled that day with ‘things I love to do’, ‘things I’m good at’ and ‘skills I need for my job’ – which showed me that I was a million miles away from having a satisfying career.

So, I quit that day. No job to go on to. No particular plan. A knowledge that I wanted to share the yoga that had helped me so very much to heal physically from the car crash, and mentally and spiritually from the awfulness of my divorce. I had no idea what ‘the plan’ would be, but I just trusted in my good intentions.

Six years later, and Movement for Modern Life – the UK’s first online yoga streaming company – is now five years old, amazingly successful, and has been dubbed the ‘Netflix of Yoga’ by Vogue.

I was named the ‘Fresh Face of Wellbeing’ (not bad for a 43 year old!), I own my own haven of a home in the countryside, I get to work with the very best yoga, meditation, mindfulness and wellbeing teachers from around the world and best of all, I know that I’m working to spread the healing practices that enabled my own transformation from half-dead city worker to living a vibrant, full life with new and interesting challenges every single day.

Every single day I pinch myself as I can’t believe that I’ve just dreamt up the absolute dream lifestyle for me, and get to run a fabulous business.

So, that’s me. Now – what about you?

In the follow up to this introduction, I will be sharing some of the practices that helped me to shift my mindset, to enable my transformation. I’ll be sharing some of the highs and lows that I encountered in starting my own business, and sharing the five things that really helped me to Move On from a life-half-lived, to one that is full of joy, opportunity and gratitude. From rock bottom we rise – together.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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