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Why I Practise Yoga

My journey to Yoga and Mindfulness (Ali Moloney yoga and mindfulness teacher)

I went to my first yoga class when I was 12. I went with my mum, she dragged me because I was a grumpy pubescent, and it was that or she might kill me as she was in early onset full blown high thermostat murderous menopause. The class took place in a catholic church hall in the little village in Ireland where I grew up. The other women were all at least 40 years older than me, ranging from really old to ancient relic. We didn’t have fancy yoga mats - we had towels and bits of carpet underlay. Yoga clothing was mostly towelling tracksuits (if you were posh) or thick black tights or thermal underwear & big lumpy jumpers to keep us warm. The church hall temperature was arctic winter, and windy. The wind wasn’t just coming from the outside it was coming from some of the women. I was mortified! The teacher appeared to be about 180, but she was probably younger than I am now. Every now and then the priest would burst through the door to make sure we weren’t displaying any flesh, doing “un-holy” things like chanting or enjoying ourselves too much.

Despite the horror of it all, something happened that night, and a tiny spark ignited in my heart and tummy. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I wanted more. So I continued to go to the classes with all the funny old ladies and each week something in me softened.

I was always a worrier, this weekly yoga class, this space on my carpet underlay was where I felt free of that anxiety for the first time in my life, and it was a beautiful gift. I wanted to pass on that gift to others so my journey began. It wasn’t an easy one, years flashed by, & with work demands, traveling, getting married, having our son, a bout of cancer, and then 5 miscarriages, my time on the mat was a little more sporadic. Yet I always somehow made time most days to do some yoga postures, to sit, breathe and meditate. When I didn’t the anxiety returned with its volume on full blast, leaving me exhausted, and eventually ill with chronic fatigue.

So I knew I had to change, & that the answer was inside, I just had to stop and listen.

So I did, and I returned to regular practice. After several years I started training as a yoga teacher and then a mindfulness teacher. I had counselling after my 5 miscarriages and I am grateful for what I learned in those very dark days. I studied more about how mindfulness worked. I learned how the brain can actually change it’s structure, (it’s called neuroplasticity), the same way we can change our bodies when we practice asana. I learned how to manage anxiety instead of it controlling me. So now I run courses in Mindfulness to Manage Stress, and I teach Hatha yoga classes which are very Mindfulness based.

I love what I do. I love seeing my students laugh, release, find space and meaning in their bodies minds and hearts. Yes, I am a Yoga and Mindfulness teacher, but I am not an expert. I can’t do handstands (due to a nasty break of my wrist, which is now full of metal from a cycling tumble). I have messy hair, my face isn’t perfect, and neither is my body, but I have found a place of harmony, peace, joy, courage, resilience and strength through my own practice and my teaching. I love that by sharing yoga and mindfulness practice I help people to also discover a way to find inner peace. That doesn’t mean I’m always peaceful, I’m human, but now I am aware of what to do when I’m not.

I have no interest in taking the world by storm or making millions, I have no interest in becoming a famous yoga teacher. I have no need for more stuff, because I have so much to be thankful for already. I am grateful for things & people that make me laugh, cry, think, and feel a sense of wonder and amazement. I pray every night for guidance, courage, faith and the wisdom to remember to listen to the answers inside my heart.

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