Today’s post is a little different from normal because I want to take a very personal look at some of the things that have been going on in my life lately.
These are topics that I don’t often speak about, so some may surprise you. But I know from all the amazing guests I’ve hosted on my podcast how wonderful it can be to hear someone else’s story and take inspiration from their journey.
Everything I share online comes from the heart. But this post is a particularly personal one. I’m sharing it in the hope that it might help others. And I am also hugely thankful to my audience – you are always so supportive.
Let me know in the comments if anything here resonates with you or helps you on your own journey.
1. I Don’t Do Advanced Yoga Poses
Now, I know me writing about Yoga is not a surprising thing. I am always sharing tips and routines to help you incorporate Yoga and Face Yoga into your day-to-day life.
But I want to look at my own relationship with Yoga and what it means to me personally.
If you have been following me for a while, you might already know a little about how I came to Yoga originally. In my early 20s, I became very ill with ME. I had so little energy that I was essentially bedridden.
My husband heard of a life coach at the University of Bath who had ME and was able to overcome it. I went to see her, and she suggested trying some Yoga.
This was before you could easily find Yoga videos on YouTube. So, I ended up buying a VHS videotape from a local shop.
When I got home, I watched the video through and knew straight away that I wouldn’t be able to attempt about 90% of it. I was just too unwell. But I decided that I would try doing the introductory sequence, which involved breathing and some light stretches.
I could do it without getting out of bed. So, I thought I would try it for a few days, as a test for whether Yoga might be helpful to me.
Even now, I can still remember that moment. I can picture the pale-blue cover on my duvet and the seascape from Ikea hanging on the wall. Because that was the moment I learnt how to breathe properly.
I learnt how to take those deep, slow breaths in and out through the nose. I learnt how to let my abdomen rise with my inhale and fall with my exhale.
As that first deep, calming, oxygen-rich breath filled my lungs, I knew I could heal from ME. Yoga led me to discover all sorts of other holistic health techniques, from acupressure, to affirmations, to nutrition. And it was the Yoga was the first step to healing myself from the illness in 18 months.
It remains a vital part of my toolbox. I practise Yoga almost every day.
I say almost because there are always going to be those rare instances when I can’t make it onto the mat. But most days I’ll do the minimum of my go-to poses, such as child’s pose, forward fold, pigeon, some neck work, and some shoulder work. And whenever I can, I’ll do a full class. That used to be in-person. Since the first lockdown in 2020, I’ve moved to online classes instead.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I am a positive person 24/7. I am human so I have bad days of course! But yoga is a fantastic toolbox that gives me what I need to manage anything that comes up, whether that is stress, low energy, discomfort in my body, etc. Face Yoga is the same.
Most importantly, Yoga is a place where I let go of any sense of competition or need for perfection. I don’t make those a focus in my life anyway – my motto is that 80% is better than perfect. It releases me from any expectation that something needs to be 100% to my satisfaction before I let it out into the world.
But on the mat, I don’t even need that motto. I simply move in the way my body needs that day.
Although I’ve been teaching Yoga for seventeen years now, I can’t hold many of the advanced poses, such as crow or headstands and handstands, for any length of time.
Yoga has never been about mastering those poses for me. I know that if I worked at them, I would improve. But that isn’t the mindset I bring to the mat. I simply aim to feel better at the end than I did when I started.
If you are new to Yoga, I suggest starting slowly, with gentle stretches and breathing exercises. I have two DVDs that focus on body Yoga. They are broken into 10-minute sections to make it manageable when you are starting out. You can also download them as apps.
2. My Front Teeth Aren’t Real
I never had braces as a child. But I have all sorts of jaw issues, including a narrow and asymmetric jaw, which leads to my teeth being crowded and a bit crooked.
Face yoga helps hugely with these issues. But they are mainly caused in childhood, so there’s only so much that exercises in adulthood can do.
Diet and posture can also influence our tooth alignment. I’ve spoken to two functional dentists recently on the podcast if you are interested in finding out more. You can find Dr Shehab Faragallah’s episode here and Dr Steven Lin’s episode here.
My teeth don’t bother me too much, and they aren’t something I feel very self-conscious about. I’m definitely not looking for that perfect Hollywood smile. But I did want to address my two crooked front teeth.
However, when I spoke to my chiropractor about getting braces, she advised me against it. I’m prone to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which causes pain in the joint between your upper and lower jaw.
I manage it with massage and Face Yoga, so it isn’t a big problem nor does it cause me daily pain. But braces could aggravate it. So, instead, my dentist put some veneers on for me on my two front teeth.
It feels a bit odd because I am usually so focused on natural beauty. This is the only form of artificial cosmetic treatment I’ve had. But under the circumstances, it was the best way to address my crooked teeth.
3. I Follow My Intuition
Some people may find this section a little ‘woo woo’. But I know I have a supportive audience and I know how open-minded you all are too.
Since around 2019, I’ve been more aware of the soul as a separate entity from our minds and bodies. I’ve also been thinking more about death and how the soul continues after our body dies. The soul is eternal.
It gives me so much peace to know there is a part of me that is ever-living. I know my soul transcends temporary conditions of the body and mind, such as stress, anxiety, or physical illness.
This has given me the confidence to work more with my intuition. I’ve completed my Reiki one and will soon finish my Reiki two course as well, which has helped me to build on this work.
I now rely on my intuition to guide me in both my business and my daily life.
I find the easiest way to do this is to take a few deep breaths and ask myself a question. I then pay attention to what comes up immediately in the first couple of seconds – thoughts, sounds, images, emotions.
By the time four seconds or so have passed the logical brain tends to take over, so it is really only those one to two seconds when our intuition shines through.
One difficulty is distinguishing intuition from fear. This is something I am still very much working on. But I find that my intuition speaking is usually accompanied by a feeling of calm and peacefulness.
When it is my fear speaking, it tends to come with anxiety and discomfort instead.
4. I’ve Been Diagnosed with Coeliac Disease
This is a very recent development, but the road to diagnosis began a couple of years ago. After speaking with a friend who had found out she had an iron deficiency, I realised I had many of the same symptoms.
I went for tests, and the doctor told me I was so low on iron stores that I was essentially running on empty. I went to have an iron infusion.
For the first few days after the infusion, I felt terrible. But when that cleared, I noticed the symptoms were gone. I had far more energy, was losing less hair, and no longer had restless leg syndrome.
I continued to feel well throughout 2019. In spring 2020, I had shingles, and the UK went into lockdown for Covid-19, so I was homeschooling my two girls as well as running my business.
With all that going on, I put the symptoms that were creeping back down to illness and stress. But in early 2021 I got so dizzy that I fainted. And I realised my symptoms matched an iron deficiency again.
I had another blood test, and my iron levels were indeed low. But an infusion should last for life unless there is an underlying cause. So, my doctor continued to do tests to see if something else was going on.
Eventually, she concluded the most likely cause is Coeliac disease. I already knew I had a problem with gluten and have been about 90% gluten-free since 2018. Unfortunately, that meant she couldn’t do the usual tests.
But Coeliac disease affects the absorption of nutrients from the small intestine. As well as my iron deficiency, I was also low in magnesium and vitamin D.
So, I’ve now gone 100% gluten-free. I’m also due to have some vitamin D injections soon. You can hear me chat to my doctor about this in this podcast https://faceyogaexpert.com/iron-deficiency-and-coeliac/
5. I Feel Insecure Sometimes
We all have our insecurities. I’m normally a confident person and I have a good toolkit to help me, including affirmations, visualisations, and breathing exercises.
But sometimes, I’ve noticed I’m comparing myself with my friends and peers who are a similar age to me. I’m turning age 40 in a few months. And I’ve never had any kind of invasive cosmetic procedure, such as Botox or fillers.
Just to be clear – I don’t think there is anything wrong with having those things. Women should be free to choose. If having a cosmetic procedure helps you feel happy and more confident, then go for it.
But it isn’t the path I’ve chosen. And that means I have some lines that friends who have had Botox or fillers don’t have. Lately, I’ve been feeling insecure about that.
Face Yoga helps a lot and I know that my skin is good. I don’t want to look twenty-one when I’m not! My aim has always been to feel as happy and healthy as I can. And my intuition is telling me that ageing naturally is the right path for me.
I feel proud of that choice. My face will look older as I age. And that is OK. Because my goal is to look and feel healthy.
Thank you for reading. I have so much gratitude for my amazing audience and how you all support me. I hope this post has helped you too.