THE STORY OF A YOGA TEACHER WHO FOLLOWS HER DREAM
I have always been a mover. I practically danced out of the womb and have not stopped since. When I look back on my life so far, I can see that my darkest hours were when I was not moving. My ‘before life’ is what I call the first part of my existence, when I was not awake to the powers of movement, the knowledge inside my own body, or even self-love and awareness. Yet even in my before life, moving helped me face my fears and overcome my greatest challenges, often without my realisation.
When I was 16 my older brother died suddenly in a car accident. My life fell apart around me as my family and I faced a new reality. We persevered, and I adopted a mask, which I wore everyday of my life for the next 5 years. My mask said that everything was fine. For the most part, I came across extroverted, bubbly and joyful, but inside I was hurt and exhausted from the facade. I told myself I had to be strong; I had to achieve despite what had happened. Throughout these years, I didn’t allow myself to feel. I buried everything, constructing a huge but fragile coping mechanism around every area of my life.
I started skipping school shortly after, but I would spend long hours in the local dance studio almost everyday. I didn’t realise it then, but the movement was my way of being free of my mask. My time spent in the studio put me in touch with the present moment and allowed me to express myself freely.
I took my first yoga class in a Hare Krishna temple near my house when I was 17 years old. I loved how my body felt afterwards, the way it complimented my dance practice and how it built on my strength and flexibility, but most of all, I loved how free it made me feel. Spending time with just my body, my breath and the earth was a way to take the mask off, and for 75 minutes I could be myself.
After that, my journey with yoga progressed organically. I moved to London to study dance full-time, and at the weekends I had a job on reception in a yoga studio near my house. In my final year I was given an opportunity to enrol on a teacher training course at the studio. I didn’t realise then, but this was the beginning of my ‘now life’.
The more introspective work I did during this time, the bigger the cracks in my coping mechanism became. I was spending a lot of time moving my body, sometimes in asana practice, other times in improvisational dance work. My connection to my breath and the intelligences of my body started to strengthen. I was coming back into reality. I became conscious of my mask and began the painful process of learning to live without it. As I ventured on a journey of self-discovery, I realised I had no idea who I was anymore, I was blind to my purpose and bound by pressures of society. My yoga practice showed me the path whilst the community of empowered individuals around me helped me walk it.
Slowly but surely, I began to feel things I was previously unaware of. My relationship with myself changed, and thus my relationship with the world around me also became different. I started to experience life, taking the role of the driver rather than the passenger; the dancer rather than the audience. My biggest breakthrough came with the realisation of my true purpose; to be as unashamedly me as I can possibly be, to be kind and understanding to others as each individual has to endure their own traumas and heartbreaks, to chose love when it would be easier to cower in fear, and ultimately, to inspire others to do the same. These are choices that I make everyday, even when it is challenging.
My relationship with yoga taught me that I am not defined by the past, it is my relationship with myself in the present that allows me to speak my truth and help others to find their voice. Yoga reminded me there is no separation between body, mind and spirit. Beneath our stories, habits and learned behaviours, we are part of an extensive network, all sharing the same vital life force that connects all living beings.
In my ‘now life’, my practice has taken me all over the world. It has allowed me to see through social constructs and be free from the pressures of society. My now life is the life where I am awake and aware. It is the life in which I choose who I am, direct my energy, and apply myself effectively. It is the life where not only can I make my dreams a reality, but I realise that life is a dream, and it is my mission to stay awake inside it.
About the Author:
Rachael Haylock is a yoga teacher, dancer, and writer from London. She believes in the exchange of influence, inspiration, and ideas, living with the motto ‘Replace Ambition with Curisoity’. Her passion for embodied movement fuels her classes, which she endeavours to teach with as much light, laughter, and playfulness as possible – www.breathbodyearth.com