According to Emeline Keown, yoga is a journey from ‘fear to love’. For this 60-year-old picture of health (who lists competitive hockey, running and high intensity exercise in her past repertoire) yoga has unfolded over the years as a many-petalled wellness gift.
She now sees yoga as essential to her health and happiness and has healed injuries, transformed her fitness and expanded her self-awareness with yoga. “Yoga teaches you stillness and a profound sense of inner awareness. You have to go inwards, learning to discern the messages of the body and act appropriately, with compassion and acceptance for yourself”.
It wasn’t always this way. Originally from the Netherlands, Emeline first tried yoga when she was eighteen but dismissed it in favour of high intensity sports. “I was a hockey player, a runner, and yoga didn’t feel in that league – I wanted to do sport”. It was when she moved to Oxford and started doing Body Balance classes at David Lloyd, a mixture of yoga, pilates and tai chi, that she started to see the benefits of a slower, more mindful regime. “My body just loves it and it is challenging in its own way. [Yoga] has made me much more aware of how my body is, it can feel very flexible one day and not so flexible a day later. I love having the time and space for myself, listening to my body while ‘going through’ the practice.”.
This shift in energy is mirrored in Emeline’s work life: a finance postgraduate, she started her career in banking, moved on to IT and finally settled into supporting families of people with dementia at the charity Young Dementia UK. She is currently supporting a friend with young-onset dementia in Oxford, alongside caring for her beloved ten-year-old border collie and, when back from university, “my amazing son and daughter”.
Emeline has always had a deep interest in spiritual matters and recalls practising Transcendental Meditation with her parents back in Holland. She has a profound appreciation of the power of connection between people. She places yoga firmly in the category of holistic health: “The body has an enormous capacity to look after itself – if you can just discern what it is telling you. I would love yoga to be a subject taught in education. Not just the practice but also the philosophy.” She urges others to “Give it a go - yoga is an experience, a journey!”.
Our Tales from the Mat come from the wonderful Joy Le Fevre, yoga teacher and founder of yogidup.com.