When people ask me what I do for a living, I say firstly, I am a lawyer. As a Paralegal at Wolferstans I assist Partner Barry Bayley with his complex clinical negligence cases. Then, in the next breath, I say I am also a qualified Yoga Teacher and am usually asked a torrent of questions. Does yoga help with this ailment? My back aches, what stretches should I do? How do you find the time to do both jobs? I smile and take another breath.
I began practising yoga in 2015/16 following a difficult stage in my life, it’s true what they say, life will keep throwing you the same lesson until you learn it! Interestingly, a lot of the people who practise yoga were also drawn to it during challenging times in their lives. I came to my mat nervous and unsure, but after the first session with my teacher, I felt lighter, happier and fully stretched from head to toe. From that moment on, I knew I was hooked and yes, I do enjoy the physical benefits that comes with regularly practising yoga, but for me that isn’t the primary reason I have stuck with it for so long. It’s that feeling of peace and calm after lying in Savasana (corpse pose), at the very end of the class, the meditation. I recently had a student say to me “it’s not just a fad is it; it really does work. I had so many things going around my head about work, but now… I really couldn’t give a….” well you can fill in the rest.
So how does this tie in with my day job? Well, it seems that they fit together quite nicely. After a successful Health and Wellbeing Week that Wolferstans organised in 2019, I was asked if I could teach at work on a more permanent basis. Pre-covid, I was able to offer two different styles of classes a week, both in the office in one of our common rooms. Once we started working from home, I continued the classes virtually via Zoom and it seemed people were willing to make that transition. Staff commented on how good it made them feel, in their mind and in their bodies and how they felt focused and productive when beginning their work after a vigorous morning flow. Then others would say after a day sat at their desk, tension in their neck, shoulders and back would ease away, their brain could relax and switch off following a slow evening class.
There have been a number of studies showing the damaging effects that sitting for long periods of time can do to our bodies. In November 2019 the NHS updated their live-well advice website to recommend people “Move More, Sit Less” citing studies linking inactivity with some serious health conditions. To counter this, the NHS suggest adults aged 19-64 set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes, to stand or walk around while on the telephone and swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/why-sitting-too-much-is-bad-for-us/). The possibilities are endless, but the message is clear, people must move more and yoga is described by them as a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance of the body and mind. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/guide-to-yoga/).
Sometimes, it feels a bit like a superhero; lawyer by day, yoga teacher by night. But instead of the conflicting alter-egos which true superheroes experience, mine, for the most part, exist in harmony. I am by no means perfect, either as a person, lawyer or as a teacher and student of yoga, but every day is an opportunity to do better, to try harder, to keep working on ourselves and to find those things in our life which keep us balanced.