Last week I met with yoga teacher Natalie Buckland. There was laughter and tears as she talked openly about her yoga journey. It hit home when she said she just wants to give her son an experience of yoga so he can better cope with all that life throws at him.
April: How did you find yoga?
Natalie: My mum found yoga for me really. We started going to a basic hatha class when I was 16 or 17 years old at a health club in Welwyn Garden City. We did this together for about a year before I started university. My mum still practices yoga now and comes to my class when she can which is great!
I did not practice any regular yoga again until I was pregnant and that was at the Yoga Hall in St Albans, which provided a quiet and calming space which was just wonderful at that time. After an emotional pregnancy, I found maternity leave was the best time of my life! However, after 10 months, I went back to work part-time and a completely new myriad of challenges were upon me. I struggled with having no time to myself any longer and had a strong yearning to do something simply for me and yoga was it. I found Ashtanga yoga through Newness Yoga Harpenden and began reading and learning more about yoga philosophy and everything just seemed to make sense. I started taking classes with Taran Boynton and Martin Forsyth so that I was practicing several times a week.
April: In what ways has yoga influenced other areas of your life?
Natalie: Ashtanga yoga made me realize my inner strength. It enabled me to connect with my body, which enabled me to find myself again as a person and not just as a wife and a mother. I believe it found me when I needed it most. I loved being on my mat and learning about my body again, what it could and could not do. In the beginning I was not very strong physically and this probably mirrored how I was feeling at the time. I liked being on the mat, as I did not have to worry about anyone else and enjoyed being led through the postures and for this I felt so grateful!
But then my teacher (she points to me!) changed her class to a Mysore-style class (i.e. a self-practice class). This had a big impact on me. Initially, I was quite cross as I found self-practice is much harder to commit to but now I know it was the best thing for me. It meant if I wanted to keep feeling the positive effects of yoga in my life then I would need to take responsibility and to just keep practicing and that’s really when everything started to change. I settled into self-practice and saw that it was all about commitment. It’s about when things are shit you still keep doing it. I’m not one to shy away from hard work and as a result last year for me was about deepening my self-practice and turning it into a home practice.
I then went on to do a teacher training with two wonderful teachers: Norman Blair and Melanie Cooper. During the training I admit that my own practice suffered but from all the teachings I learned there I feel I have more freedom in my practice. I’m so much more accepting of myself, my practice and situations I find myself in now – its awesome!
I believe if you allow it to, yoga has self-healing powers. I just find it amazing and I can’t now ever imagine not having it in my life.
April: Why did you do the Big Dog Little Dog training?
Natalie: I want my child (and all children!) to have the influence of yoga in his life. I see that things can get between you and your child – like household chores and working etc, - that’s life; there’s always something to do! I hear people say that their children are their number one priority but at the same time, I see them finding excuses for not spending time with them. I am most certainly not a perfect mother but thankfully yoga has given me a deep awareness about my parenting. Balancing my time and the quality time I have with my son is something that I am committed to working on and always will as things change over time – like the practice, I believe it is about commitment.
April: Has your relationship changed with your son as a result of the BDLD training?
Natalie: I think that yoga brings an awareness that helps me bring honesty to the way I interact with my family. Henry asks to do the hand mudras at bedtime and he enjoys ‘flying’ with his dad. He’s become more interested in my yoga practice as a result of this and is asking more questions about yoga. I think if you can teach your child skills to manage their future stresses and emotions in a natural, authentic and appropriate way then it is so worthwhile and yoga provides this. I want to be able to give parents useful tools found in the BDLD curriculum to help them connect with their children too.
Natalie has taught yoga in her son’s school and plans to start running monthly public workshops in the Hertfordshire / Bedfordshire area soon. You can keep abreast with her movements through the BDLD website: www.bdld.co.uk