I was one of those kids in school who got picked mid-way through or last to play on a team. I played rugby, netball, cricket and basketball. It was not that I did not like sports, but it was the fact I was a girl who had assets well beyond her years. So much so I had to have a breast reduction at 18.
In my early 20’s I fell in love with spinning. I could infinitely peddle to the beat and get to Mars is I wanted. I even trained to do a 470km run and cycle to raise money for the Princes Trust. I felt so focused running. Then S*** happened literally! I came down with Shigella, which before you start googling is a form of Dysentery. 9 days into agonizing pain and my doctor not wanting to shell out antibiotics they did further blood tests and then the strongest dose of antibiotics knocked me flat. I had no energy, my muscular strength went and I had to build it up again.
In my transition period I started Ashtanga yoga. I loved it. At that time of my life I was still deluded that career meant success. So I spent my time as a Management Consultant working on bids until 4am in the morning, living out of a suit case, travelling, accumulating air miles and not knowing where I was going to be on a Monday. To be fair it was exciting and I made the most amazing friends, and worked with really talented people that satisfied my intellectual needs.
I then went independent but relocated to Zurich. At that point I started to challenge what success really was. I was earning lots of money, great friends, had a great serviced apartment, property and a jet set life style and I was still in my 20’s. The truth was on a Sunday I would be alone in that apartment and working; but for what.
In my second transition period a colleague at work asked me to go to a Bikram Yoga class. I then practiced Bikram, but something inside of me changed. I decided to not fly back home every weekend (because I had great friends and family), but to try and integrate into life in Zurich. I decided to focus on me. Each day I went into the studio I focused on me. It wasn’t about those around me, my success was not measured by what others were doing. It was about my practice. Some days my body was different, and I could not go as far and some days my body had a new alignment having a deeper and more advanced practice. I had gone from the competition being external, to internal. I was figuring out what connected me, how could I improve with discipline and focus and this competition was tougher than winning a netball match. It also had life changing implications. In parallel I started and captained the netball team making great friends, but it took me away from what was my true passion.
Life changing self-competition made me focused on everything that connects me. I started to bring and define success for me: my amazing husband (I was single at 30), 2 beautiful children, teach and practice yoga, challenge my mind in a fulfilling and balanced role and education, a healthy life style as my appetite and food tastes changed, as well as launch my start up. I broke away from Bikram yoga because of the significant number of alleged rapes. I continue to practice Ashtanga and Hatha.
There is a misconception that because yoga is not directly competitive it doesn’t add any value. I have had these comments from previous team mates, and even friends. I never try to force my thinking on them. Slowly over the years others have started to practice and you can see the change. What I wanted to share was the clarity of perception I have now. When I thought I was being competitive running, and playing netball it was a distraction. The hardest thing was to constantly improve when the only tool is your own body. That body can change, and believe me it did after each child. I had to go back to zero again which is very humbling, and start again. I don’t get distracted with what others are doing and my life is whole.