Norwich based, international yoga teacher and trainer Jackie Heffer-Cooke tells us why yoga is the best therapy for mental health, as well as a great physical exercise.
It’s New Year, a great time to motivate ourselves towards being the version of ourselves that we want to be. New Year is also a time for reflection, to look back and feel glad, or sad, and for the next twelve months to figure out what is working for us, and what isn’t, and move towards getting it right.
A vision board is a good idea – literally filling a space with pictures and quotes for your hopes and dreams for the coming year – putting it up on the wall – and moving towards it.
I always do a very simple graph too, where I have a centre point with 6 lines, the same length, all moving away from it in all directions. These 6 lines have categories like: family, adventure, work, friends, relationship, health – then you can draw a cross somewhere on each categorised line, the further away from the centre point the most fulfilled you are, the closer to the centre point the least fulfilled. This is a super intuitive way to see what areas of your life are working, and which aren’t. The areas that aren’t working, well they are the areas that need your time and effort to process hat’s going wrong, and what you can do to move towards the life you want and need.
Last year, I don’t mind telling you, was difficult. I lost a lot. The most important thing I lost, was my father-in-law (my dad). And this year I have struggled. I have struggled with my mental health, and the realisation that time is short. What have I done to help myself? Well, in the early summer when it all happened to be honest not a lot, apart from understand that we were in a horrible time and we must allow ourselves to be there. It involved heartache, and crutches to help us through like alcohol, and a sometimes numb and sometimes sinking feeling called grief, and feelings of helplessness for my children and my husband.
Over my lifetime I have had periods of anxiety and insomnia. These can be from over demanding things of myself, a fear of getting things wrong, stress from high powered executive jobs, or bouts of post-natal confusion. Over the last ten years I have found yoga, mindfulness and meditation to save me. It’s my therapy. It’s my mental fitness as well as my physical fitness of choice. During the summer the only way yoga helped is reminding me that I am allowed to have these feelings, and to accept and be in these emotions without judgement. Then slowly in September things started to change, they had to. I (we) stopped drinking, eating meat, I started a new business called ZenMuma, doing something that inspired me – teaching other women how to teach the specialised yoga and Hypnobirthing which I had so loved teaching over the last decade, and my yoga practise slowly started to come back. I began to allow myself space again to breathe, and be still, and then to move my tired body in a way where it started to once again feel more alive.
The Future is bright
I am still in a journey of processing last year, there is a sadness to 2018 that won’t ever go away. But I am so looking forward to a fresh start in 2019. I am welcoming this new year with such open arms, and a mindfulness to get to a place of contentment, and even happiness, once again.
The future looks good. Professionally ZenMuma Teacher Training is launching in Bury St Edmunds, Nottingham, Bristol and of course stays in its home town of Norwich. ZenKids is exciting, as I work with a team of professionals in education and health to get movement and mindfulness into schools. The ZenMuma Hypnobirthing digital pack is launched, and I have high hopes of a published book this year. And we have retreats in Thailand, Sardinia, Suffolk and Tuscany – now that’s fun times.
I am also in a wonderful place of celebrating ten years of Jackie Heffer-Cooke as a health and wellbeing expert! I launched my wellbeing business ten years ago in my converted garage therapy room when I was pregnant with Sam, teaching hypnobirthing, providing massage therapy and teaching baby yoga. Since then YogaBubs, YogaBumps, The Orange Grove Clinic, Retreats and now ZenMuma and ZenKids. At last, after ten years of experience, I feel worthy of my role and proud of my work.Personally, we are working on healing. The children are always our sunshine. That helps.
And in the centre of it is a yoga practise. Something to hold on to. And a yoga practise I need in 2019 more than ever before to help me find myself again after a mental battering-about this year.
I want to get fit physically again, so I have energy, so I feel strong and capable once again. And I want to get mentally fit again, so I have energy, so I feel strong and capable once again.
Come and join me at my ZenYoga Classes
You are more than welcome to join me at the Norwich School for Girls at 7.30pm on a Monday night, and you are more than welcome to join me online via my new YouTube channel, ZenMuma Tribe and on Facebook and Instagram for some yoga, mindfulness, and general positive vibes, launching sometime in January – I’m not giving myself any pressure here, it will be what it will be, and it is what it is.
Whatever you do in 2019, take some time to mindfully process where you are right now, what you like, and what you don’t, and give yourself that positive vision to move towards next year, then just move towards it step by step. There will be plenty of people rooting for you and wanting to hold your hand. Just do it, hopefully I will see you on the way…