As I look around me, more and more people are turning to yoga for overall health and well-being and general fitness, me included. Several years ago, after working 14 years in the PR business, I hit a wall and was diagnosed with a chronic illness for which the main symptom was bone numbing, mind-fogging fatigue. I was in a trough so deep I had to have weekly iron injections along with vitamin B-12 shots three times a week, which I eventually gave myself to save on travel time to the clinic (talk about overcoming my fear of needles for the greater good). I also took daily doses of extra vitamins that came in the form of about eight pills. I kept working… long hours… although some of it was because my pace had slowed down from what I normally could sustain.My mom used to tell me that I had two speeds – fast and stop. Realizing that the new me would also have two speeds, fast not being one of them, was a real kick in the stomach. My nickname, the ‘Ever-Ready Bunny’, started to ring hollow in my ears as I smiled through the fog and struggled to keep up the pace.
Our first move overseas was a welcome change. Actually, it was more than that. It was the escape I was desperately seeking. I could quit my job because I was moving, not because I couldn’t physically handle working full-time any more. It allowed me to save face and stay in denial about my limitations. It also gave me the opportunity to re-invent myself. That was when I became a full-time freelance writer and eventually a published author. Writing full-time from home is a joy and it’s not as physically demanding as going to an office every day. However, I discovered that in order to keep my creative juices flowing, my mind needed not only intellectual stimulation but physical as well. That’s when yoga became an even more important element of my life.
The expat life has a litany of additional stresses that are added to living life from day to day. Unfamiliar surroundings, no family support system, strange languages and foods, different (sometimes better sometimes worse) business practices; not to mention the processes and procedures required to get settled that would send the sanest of us all screaming, pulling our hair out and running in any other direction.
I have found deep breathing, meditating on the beach (literally or in your mind), child’s pose and Shavasana (usually the final resting pose in a yoga practice), help ward off the rising anxiety and help still the mind. When I started practicing more regularly I found the lower back pain that had plagued me since the age of 18 slowly dissipated. And, I felt better overall health-wise, mentally and physically. At a writing retreat I held last year, I included morning yoga every morning and after the overwhelming response I had, I started thinking about actually getting certified to teach.
I contemplated going to India for a month and then a realization dawned on me as we were driving around the island of Koh Phangan and I saw a sign for Agama Yoga School. For heavens sake! I live in Thailand, so why would I go elsewhere to train to be a yoga instructor? After an extensive search online for yoga schools in Thailand I discovered that the one that best suited my needs was indeed the one I had seen the advertising for while on a casual spin on a weekend get-away with friends from Canada. I guess it was meant to be. I started my training last month and my plan is to complete my Level I Yoga Instructor certification before my next writing retreat scheduled for November.
Expat life for me is the only life to live… as long as it includes writing and yoga. Have you found your winning combination?
by Anne O’Connell.
A published author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011.
Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter and communications consultant since 2007, specializing in marketing, corporate communications, public relations, social media and website content. She and her husband have a passion for travel and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world. Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. You can visit her website at www.anne-oconnell.com or her blog at www.anne-writingjustbecause.blogspot.com.
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