Angela's Yoga Healing Experience
Behind the beautiful and fun yoga photos we see online are often stories of struggles that we know nothing about. We assume that the person we are looking at, often envying, has it all together with an easy life. Why we assume that is beyond me because everyone has something they struggle with, no exceptions!
I had the privilege of interviewing a beautiful yogi from the UK who is no different. Angela’s yoga healing story is captivating and truly amazing. It strengthens my desire to not only deepen my own yoga practice, but also deepens my desire to continue to inspire and encourage women in their quest for healing through yoga.
Without further ado, meet Angela …
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself like where you are from, what you do, your age (or approximate age if you don’t want to reveal it), do you have children, hobbies, etc.
A: Hello everyone, I’m Angela. Currently I’m in my 40’s living in the UK with my beautiful little family of twins in their 20’s and their younger sibling. I love my family dearly! Love, when it's right, is simply glorious!
I have been an abstract and contemporary artist for the last several years. Mostly using acrylic paint as my tool of choice on stretched canvas of any size. Right throughout my life I have always been involved with the arts in one way or another from contemporary dance, interior design, photography to martial arts such a Judo. Mostly as hobbies, I never took them to a professional level, some with regret as being a professional dancer was one of a multitude of dreams growing up.
Health care and psychology has always been of great interest to me. At a young age, I became a care assistant to the frail and elderly in residential care homes. Initially I wanted to be a pediatric nurse, but witnessing small children seriously ill and terminally sick was more than my heart could bear. So, it was decided that looking after the elderly by helping them transition at the end of their lives seemed much more kind and in keeping with life's plan, which was the avenue I followed career wise.
My current hobbies include gardening, reading and watching sci-fi. Doctor Who is my favorite go to, especially New Who (series from 2006). So, yeah, I’m a pretty big Whovian. Also, anything that involves being creative and using the imagination and this includes Yoga. 😄
Overall though, I think the most influential and strongest aspect of my life, from being a small child, is my deep connection to spirituality.
Q: What was your life like before yoga?
A: The situation I was born into was anything but normal or stable. Life, right from the beginning was filled with anxiety, being scared and confused most of the time.
My mother had a severe form of schizophrenia, which meant her perception of the world and I were distorted. Eventually, at age 18 months I ended up in the hospital due to the most horrendous and life-threatening abuse. I was put into care after this. I stayed in care until I was 5 years old when my father's father gained custody of me through the court. This is when my mum took her own life, having spent the last of her years in a secure mental health hospital. She died at age 23.
I then started over living with my nan, grandad & dad from the time I was 5 to 15 years old. I wish that I could say it all turned out loving and positive, but it did not. My nan had her own mental health issues, which as the years passed by, grew more and more severe as she never got the professional help she needed, nor any medication.
Nan’s abuse was mostly mental and emotional. The environment was pure poison and a life literally lived in darkness and fear. I remember crying, sobbing uncontrollably many times as a child and feeling a sudden warmth wrap itself around me. This warmth made me feel so safe and calm. It felt like pure love. It was so powerful it would placate me into a restful sleep.
I used to believe this was my mum in spirit, or an angel sent to save me. It was from these experiences that my interest into the paranormal and spirituality began.
As I grew older (12+), I found myself wanting to contact the other side, mainly to talk to my mum. Even though she was very unwell in life, I missed her so irrevocably that my heart would break every time I thought about her.
I found a spiritualist church a few streets away at age 13 where every Sunday, I would go and listen to Mediums tell audience members messages from the beyond. A couple of times I was picked, but my mum was never mentioned.
At age 15, my dad and I got our own flat. It was like someone had opened the doors to a birdcage, where the bird had flown for the very first time. Suddenly, I was allowed to fly. I was free at last from all the abuse. We, my dad and I, could now live in a home of light. Quite literally.
My father is a quiet man, never wanting to make a fuss or take control. With that, after we moved he never parented me, even when I clearly needed the support of a parent. He just never showed any interest. So, I found myself, once again, 100% alone in life having to try to figure life out all on my own.
I began hanging out with new people, but not necessarily good people. We would often make a Oijui Board to try to contact the other side, which we always did assuming no one was pushing the planchet.
For many years, into my 20’s, I did the
Oijui Board with many different people, but I don’t do it now. I believe it to not be a safe method to contact loved ones. At the very least I have seen the Oijui Board cause mental symptoms of paranoia and panic, so it’s best to just leave it well alone.
At age 18, I finally had had enough of my living situation with my dad and his then new girlfriend. I made arrangements to move out. My mentor at work got me a room in a hostel. I kept a very low profile moving from hostel to hostel because of all the unsavory characters that I wanted to keep well away from! I got robbed of my belongings a few times and had a couple of relationships with guys whom I thought were decent, but only wanted to use and abuse me.
Life took on a whole new meaning of chaotic, which resulted in me having a full-scale breakdown at 19 years old. This is when life really did a 180 and turned me on my head. I admitted myself to the local hospital and stayed there for 3 months. I was determined to get better, but the system just didn’t cater to my needs.
My main symptoms were panic attacks, agoraphobia and general anxiety. Every time I went out amongst people the panicking would occur. It spiraled out of control.
I entered into endless therapy sessions that only made life worse and took medications that made my symptoms worse, to the point where on a couple of occasions, I tried to end my life.
I had become a hamster on a very big wheel with all the other folks suffering mental health problems. Running in circles getting nowhere in a system that just could not cater to my needs.
Q: What drew you to a consistent yoga practice?
A: I realized that no one was going to be able to help me but myself. After doing a lot of researching (I’m always researching), I came across different remedies I thought would help such as reflexology, macro-biotic dieting, herbal anti-anxiety remedies, new age relaxation CD’s, etc. Yoga, at first, was not even an idea or an option. I found combining the remedies together worked mildly, but didn’t give a punch. I needed something more.
I then came across Yogalates DVD’s at my local supermarket. It claimed to be a breakthrough that combined yoga with pilates. I bought them both and fell in love.
Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I had practiced Yogalates twice a week for 15 years with now a collection of 9 DVD’s by the same teacher, Louise Soloman. I’ve been practicing yoga, by itself, for one whole year. But in this year, I have practiced nearly every day. When I started, I immediately began to feel much less anxiety after taking the element of pilates out of the practice. I’m not sure if it’s due to stretching and holding asanas longer, or just deeply breathing into my body that has clicked a switch.
Q: Do you have any kind of limitations (physical, time, space, etc.)? How do you modify life and/or your practice to work with these limitations?
A: For the last several years prior to yoga, I was suffering from severe fatigue, which at its worst had me bed bound. I have found that taking a multi-probiotic helps my energy levels skyrocket as does my yoga practice. However, I still must be mindful of not pushing myself too hard or my body will power down. I keep sessions to a half an hour each night with photo asana challenges that I’ve adopted from my time on Instagram.
Q: How is life different for you now?
A: Yoga has changed my life all for the better. I’m a much calmer person in general, but also through the realization that I can trust my ability (because of yoga), which is starting to show in my relationships with people. I’m able to trust more and feel confident that I’m making good choices.
I’ve also found the confidence to stand up to the people within my life, whom have always held me down, and let them go completely along with letting go of the fear they induced. This past year has been about new beginnings.
Q: What is one thing you would say to someone struggling to get started and/or struggling to be consistent with their yoga practice?
A: I would say, sit down with a large sheet of paper and a few colored pens and start your own mind map. Find out in which areas you are struggling. If it’s a time issue, for example, perhaps you can change the time of your practice. Instead of mornings, maybe bedtime. There is always a way to adjust, its simply setting yourself up with routines that work for you.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your yoga experience that could be helpful to someone?
A: Never ever give up. Yes, life can be hard and at times we may believe things will never change, but iron is forged in fire and diamonds are formed under pressure. If there is a will, there is a way.
So, if you really want to keep up with your yoga practice, trust me, you will. And, if yoga has the same effect on you that it has on me, then you're in for the most beautiful journey of your life. A journey of self-discovery and deep healing.
Once upon a time it broke me to tell my story. Today, I tell it completely free from pain.
Please leave your thoughts and love in the comment section below.