I first experienced yoga as a stressed out veterinary student in Palmerston North. Daily Hatha yoga practice had a profound effect on my anxiety. However, as a 20-year-old I didn’t have the wisdom or discipline to stick with it, and as the summer months appeared yoga was forgotten and other new experiences became my focus.

I revisited yoga many years later to create balance for my Pilates practice. I remember my first Yin yoga class, holding the asanas for what felt like an eternity and feeling this immediate release of pent up stress and the anxiety just melt away. I can honestly say I was hooked!

I continued regular Yin yoga practice through out my first pregnancy. I remember the first time my baby kicked during class. I had a sudden rush of panic, concerned that I might be harming her in some way. But it soon became obvious that she loved it, stretching her legs and soaking up the oxygen during every class. I remember thinking to myself during my final class whilst pregnant, “I’m really going to miss doing yoga with you in my tummy”.

For me, becoming a mother has been a real spiritual awakening. Initially, yoga taught me to accept physical and mental discomfort, a very effective skill during my 18-hour labour. Then it helped me to relax and calm the inner anxiety of a first-time mum. Now, yoga has become not a way to escape my family or have time to myself, but rather a way to connect with my true nature.

Slowly but surely, yoga is becoming my way of life. I aim to get on my mat at least once a day, whether it be for pilates, yoga or meditation. And if I met my 20-year-old self in the street I’d smile and say “Parties may be fun and your studies may bring you that sense of achievement you crave, but yoga will teach you life skills you never knew you needed. Stick with it!”.