Lisa WehbÉ Holistic Yoga
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How I came to Yoga, My full story
August, 15th 2023. I cannot exactly remember the first time I heard about yoga but I suppose that it would have been some time back in the early 1990's or maybe even the 80's- yes, I am that old! I could have read the word "Yoga" on the pages of a magazine accompanied by a picture of a lycra clad smiling blonde lady or maybe one of my dance teachers mentioned it; for stretching purposes, you know? I am sure for certain that however I first became aware of it, it would have been through a modern, whitewashed lens. I didn't even step foot in a temple until I was in my 30's and I'd never heard of an Ashram back then. I'll admit, in the 90's, I used to think Yoga was fitness practice. I thought it kept you limber and was just something rich older ladies did on weekday mornings before going for an expensive coffee. These were the messages I picked up about Yoga from the world around me both subliminally and explicitly. I had no idea it was rooted in the ancient philosophy of a distant land, or that it was so heavily tied to the indigenous culture of the people who lived there. I had no idea Yoga was a spiritual practice leading the soul on a journey towards an enlightened state. The true meaning of the practices were hidden in plain sight, the result for me was a complete misunderstanding of what it even was that persisted for a long time. For people to whom yoga is a part of their heritage, I now know it was so much worse, they were often excluded and silenced and plagiarised. A legacy that unfortunately pervades to this day!
The 90's were a time of awakening spirituality for many of us. I got my first tarot deck in that decade and read books about Wicca, the occult and astrology. I had my first furore into meditation, I found it a naturally arising state that made me feel good. I used to meditate on things I thought would enhance my inner eye or to aid access to my imagination. My teenage bedroom smelt of incense sticks and there were suns and moons in iconographical abundance but in my world, there were no leaders or teachers and I had long since fervently rejected my gospel baptist christian Sunday school conditioning by this point. It was a time of exploration on my own. We were spiritual nomads, a lot of us 90's teens.
I went to my first ever Yoga class in 1999, I was 18 and had joined a gym in my town. It happened to be an Ashtanga practice and I was informed that I was "good" at it. Well, I now understand the teacher meant as far as getting my body into the shapes and flow of the practice. This was no great surprise since at the time I was entering my final year of full time professional dance training but it was in truth absolutely no indicator of the journey of my spiritual self. I now know that being able to bend ones body says nothing of ones knowledge of the truth and depth of this ancient practice. I left that class feeling great physically and mentally too but non the wiser as to why or knowing anything else to do with Yoga. I continued to practice physically intermittently over the following years between my dance contracts.
When I met my now husband in 2005 he had a very stressful job. We joined an Inyengar Yoga studio in London and attended classes with a very strict teacher once, sometimes twice weekly. There were so many people packed in tightly lined rows of mats and I remember concentrating so hard on all the cues that I didn't have time to ponder anything else. The shavasana was bliss, owing in part to the underfloor heating and in part to the silence that came after the teachers stern alignment admonishments. I wouldn't have dared ask a question!
In 2009 I became pregnant with my first baby. I waited until my 12 week scan and then promptly signed up for an independent teacher's prenatal yoga course. It was about 30 mins into my first class when I was doing the least I had ever done in a yoga class before, lying on my side with a bolster under my leg connecting to the rise and fall of my breath, that I felt a deep state of bliss ascend and an awareness that a part of myself was just one tiny piece in a cosmic puzzle bigger than my comprehension could truly fathom. I had never experienced anything like this before in a yoga capacity, it was profound to me. I loved those classes and the space they created for me to forge a deep connection with myself unlike never before. I knew then that I hoped to train to be a teacher myself one day, to share this important practice with others.
We moved out to Ickford near Thame and I spent the next 9 years having and raising three small children, simply practicing Yoga as and when I could, often in an online capacity as needs dictated and time scarcity allowed. I found this period of time both joyful and overwhelming. Sometimes the overwhelm would dominate and take me to a darker place, particularly after my third baby came along. I was so sleep deprived, for years it seemed, and my husband was at that time studying for his masters degree alongside running a business. Our eldest started school but was showing signs of Autism. There was a lot going on. I felt the pressure of perfection ideology but I couldn't rationalise it whilst I was so tired all the time. Yoga was a light in a storm for me.
In 2018 When my youngest was 3 and things were somewhat more settled (everyone was mostly sleeping through the night), I began my first Yoga teacher training. One of the very first things my teacher said to us trainees was "Yoga is a spiritual practice". It was to be a new chapter in a long journey of deep learning which is still ongoing. In 2019 I went with my family to the homeland of Yoga, India, and visited Rishikesh, Haridwar and Agra. When I was packing my bags I struggled over which of my yoga texts to pack so that I could read the words of the Upanishads or the Baghavadgita or Patanjali's Sutras whilst actually in India. When I arrived however, I and was humbled enough to stand in the temples and by the Ganges herself, I realised that all the book learning in the world couldn't prepare me for the magnitude of the wonderful truth of Yoga.
I can't wait to go back there. All the best things come from that land I think. I thank and honour that the yoga teachings have been shared so freely for the benefit of humanity. I aim to always come from a place of appreciation and not appropriation. I view my path as an ever winding journey into knowledge of myself, the ancient teachings and beyond.
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