I graduated from East15 Acting School in July 2011 having gained a 1st Class Hons degree in Physical Theatre. My training incorporated acrobatics; static trapeze; silk; rope; stage combat and mime, along with many other highly physical disciplines.
I’ve always loved keeping fit and active and I had some of the best 3 years of my life while studying. On graduating I moved to Oxford to set up a theatre company with fellow friends and graduates from the course. I wanted to retain the circus skills I’d trained so hard in at drama school but unfortunately at the time there was no where near that had the facilities to hang aerial equipment.
I began to feel my fitness levels decrease and I was getting increasingly complacent in my desire to go the gym. However, whilst cycling round Oxford one day I noticed an advert for ‘Hot Yoga’ and clearly remembered a teacher at drama school talking about this “hot and sweaty yoga” and how it had completely changed his body. I thought I should give it a go, honestly believing I would hate it having suffered from claustrophobia and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I thought I might last a maximum of 10 minutes so didn’t take up the introductory offer as I thought there was about a 90% chance I wouldn’t return. Needless to say I think to myself ‘why, why didn’t I take up that introductory offer!’ After that initial session I was hooked!
Having touched on the fact that I suffered from claustrophobia and anxiety, in truth it had dominated my young life and year-by-year it had got worse. I’m a Londoner born and bred and had never been on the Underground as an adult. I would walk miles or sit on a bus for hours just to get to my desired destination. If I needed to fly anywhere I went to see a hypnotherapist just to get me to the airport and had, after many years, resigned myself to the fact that this was me and it wasn’t going away. Deep down I knew I was becoming dependent on my anxieties to keep me safe.
After 2.5 years of a consistent Bikram yoga practise I started to see changes; not only was I regaining my fitness but I started to feel stronger mentally to the extent that one day after an audition I found myself waiting at Swiss Cottage underground station daring myself to get on the train. I got on that day and went all the way to Bond Street. For the first time in my life I had got on an underground train by myself and I was 26 years old! Approximately 4 months later I was confidently and excitedly booking myself a plane ticket to New York without the need of hypnotherapy. I think my friends thought I’d had a lobotomy, I hadn’t! I had just learnt stillness; I’d learnt how to control and manage the monkey in my head from running round, causing me always to catastrophise situations. I know now that Bikram Yoga is the practise that has changed my life and I have subsequently accomplished things I honestly thought I would never do.
Many of us start going to yoga for a stronger more flexible body and stay with it because of what it does for us holistically. I have been inspired, encouraged and strengthened both physically and mentally by practising Bikram Yoga and have become a teacher to meet and help inspire people in similar ways.