How Abhaya Came to Yoga

"Several years ago, I felt drawn to attending a local Yoga Class for various reasons.  Had tried marathon running, parachuting and heptathlons but was still looking for fulfilment in my life! As a mother with two children and a husband to look after I was searching for something I felt to be missing.  My search led me to a yoga class I found it wonderful and was sure that this was just what I needed.  I continued with the class for several years, but at times still felt the need to search for who I was.  At this stage in my life, I had to have a hysterectomy which I found difficult to cope with both mentally and physically, I was only 36.  It turned to my Yoga and this helped me through, but still I needed more, so I started to delve into the philosophy of Yoga and felt more and more nourished by what I discovered.  Fortunately, the teachers I had chosen locally followed a spiritual path as well as practising the physical side of Yoga.  They put me in touch with Mandala Yoga Ashram in Wales to which I am now affiliated. []

I felt another deep-seated urge coming to the surface and this was to travel to India.  This had always been a dream since my earliest childhood.  My mother always joked that when she died I could go to India, and when she sadly passed away the legacy she bequeathed to me enabled me to do just this.  My first taste of India made me sure that Yoga was what I had been searching for but left me hungry for more exploration.  I wanted to visit the mountains of Nepal. 

The dream of Nepal became stronger and stronger.  My husband and children told me to go and I began to plan ahead.  I felt that this was a development for my spiritual path as well as fulfilment on another level, and that is was something I had to do on my own. 

As the day drew nearer to take the flight to Kathmandu, events took a strange turn, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I asked my surgeons if the mastectomy they advised could be postponed until after my journey.  However, this was not to be and my flight to Nepal had to be put off for another time. 

All this happened many years ago, but little did I know that my Yoga practices were going to help me in such profound ways.  I was admitted to hospital and had the operation.  I found the whole experience very moving and it literally transformed my life.  I was given a second chance at life and, at the prompting of my teacher Swami Nischalananda, treated it as a tool for re-examination and change. 

I have been able to deepen my Yogic path with his guidance and that of other teaches and I am grateful that the disease enabled me to develop a profound sense of inner peace and fulfilment.  Yoga takes on very many different forms and, if we treat it with respect and utilise it properly it can change one’s life in such an enriching way. 

The Yogic path is not an easy one and we have to be prepared to stumble along the way and to learn from the process.  I did get to Nepal a year later and this was a very special time for me and taught me a lot about myself.  I feel we should always stay open to this learning process, to never let the ego get the better of us and lead us to believe that we know all  about  Yoga.  Non-attachment is also essential and I feel that we can let people learn from us by example."