When I'm not baking, eating cake, blogging, parenting or working I like to pop on some stretchy clothes, burn some essential oils and try to switch my head off by doing some yoga.
It isn't a new thing for me, I've practised it on and off since university, but in the last twelve months yoga has become a way of life and an essential part of my day to day routine.
This new obsession started last year when I was very stressed and run down. I needed to start making some changes in my life and devote some time and energy to rescuing my sanity and yoga was one of the things I turned to. I dragged myself out of the house one dark, cold Wednesday night and into my local yoga class run by White Lotus Yoga. It was the first step (or stretch) to finding myself again and just taking that hour a week to do something mentally relaxing and physically stimulating made the world of difference to me. I'm not usually one for making new year's resolutions but this year I did; to make yoga a part of my life on a more permanent basis.
The first part of my plan was to go on a yoga retreat. I say retreat, I mean holiday. I spent a long time looking for yoga breaks where you don't have to do too much strenuous exercise and could still eat and drink in the sunshine and found exactly what I was looking for through Sunflower Retreats who run week long yoga holidays in the beautiful hilltown of Casperia in Italy.
Our teacher was Katharine West from Four Seasons Yoga in Somerset. Katharine was the perfect teacher for me. Patient, fun, wise and a little bit mad, she is a passionate advocate of scaravelli yoga (which works on the natural positioning of the spine) and a beautiful person inside and out. I learnt so much and for the first time in my life felt like I was actually 'doing' yoga properly rather than just manoeuvring my not too bendy body into uncomfortable positions. I practised meditation, learnt breathing techniques that now rescue me from stress on a daily basis and made some great friends in an inspirational setting. Best of all, the food we ate was amazing. The Sunflower team promote ethical tourism and encourage guests to visit local restaurants and sample the local produce which we were all too happy to do. Pizza, pasta, gelato, truffles, cheese, tomatoes, antipasti, it was all so delicious. I did feel slightly guilty when the in-team therapist detected an imbalance in my digestive system during my reflexology session but decided it was worth it!
The up shot of it all is that I came home and, much to my husband's bewilderment, started drinking more green tea, chanting with chakra beads and dragging a back packing yogi chocolatier from New Zealand with me.
Was it life changing? I hope so. I'm still me, but I'm a better version of me with an escape valve that I can tap into whenever I need to in order to keep me that way, and a commitment to taking proactive steps to becoming a more fulfilled person. I've decided it's a journey I want to take further both for me and, hopefully, for more people like me, who need to find a way to make that space in their life. So I've now signed up with Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training and will be starting their course next year. I may not be the most flexible or spiritual person out there, but I'm a true convert to the yogic way of life and can't wait to take it to the next level.