Celebrating 3 years on my Yoga Journey

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March 2018, I celebrated 3 years of practicing yoga and journeying through meditation, mental health and lifestyle. I remember when I started practicing, I had never heard of Yoga except as an odd story and even at that, I didn’t really understand what it was. I just knew that even though I was not fat, I was greatly dissatisfied with my unhealthy lifestyle and declining health. I hated eating and perceived all food with utter abomination (I preferred junk). So I started jogging around my estate but since I usually closed work very late, it became risky to jog late at night. I remember jogging at 10pm until midnight and the dogs in the estate would literally chase me till I got to my house. Whewwwww.... 

 

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So I went online and started looking for domestic options to keeping fit and working out - that was when I found Yoga. The following Sunday, I told my pastor about it and he forbade me, stating it was demonic. So I went again into full extensive research and learned it’s extremes and safe spaces. I got myself a mat and yoga block off Jumia and started practicing. I remember going for sleepover in my cousins house and taking my mat with me. I would practice after morning devotion and at night before bed. One time my mom came visiting and she knowing that I never woke up early for morning devotion found me at the balcony around 5am in the morning practicing on my mat - she didn’t even have an idea what I was doing. She sat there and watched me till I finished and then she sighed

“Hmmmmmm... Which one is this one again?” 

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The truth is I never really understood it. Understood why I was practicing this workout that seemed so complicated & didn’t really involve cardio movement but got me sweating my nerves out just after 10 mins. I had downloaded an app called “FitStar Yoga”  and subscribed annually for yoga videos. Each session left me breathless and my mat soaked in sweat. 6 months later, I asked my brother for a photo shoot because I just didn’t know if anything had changed in my body. I needed to see some form of change or I would stop practicing. 

I searched Instagram and found advanced yogis like me online whose IG showcased starry eyed images of unimaginable and impossible poses. I screen grabbed some of them and headed to Jabi Lake in Abuja to shoot some pictures. To my amazement, I could get into about 70% of these poses even though I had never practiced them before. I had stuck to my basic practice. When the pictures came out, I could see that my body had improved. It seemed like someone gave me a new body. 

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That was motivation enough to keep practicing. I joined a yoga class taught by Basante at Transcorp Hilton and soon after, he encouraged me to assist some of his beginners classes. That was a huge step for me! A year later, I noticed everything about my health and lifestyle had unconsciously changed. I ate better. I had less anxiety & panic attacks. I grew an optimistic mindset and a tough determination to do things. My eating was regular and I looked to healthy foods and fruits instead of junk. I was able to wake early to pray and meditate. I learned to consciously breathe and be mindful about things and people around me. My arms and shoulders were toned out. Literally! 

Like, really toned out! Everyone began to ask if I lift weights! My Life had changed!

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Later that year, i made a huge step and moved to Lagos. I was really scared that I would lose everything I had managed to build into a habit. So I sought out a community of yogis. TRUPPR invited me to teach Yoga on their platform and I started hosting classes on their app. Later, Pop Beach invited me to host their yoga sessions at their beach retreats. After few months, I travelled for a 100 hr Yoga Teacher training with the goal to become better in my practice. When I came back, a friend of mine introduced me to Bodyline Gym in Ikoyi and I started teaching Yoga classes there and at few hotels in town. Then a Yogi friend of mine started her studio and I joined her studio in partnership to teach classes - Breathe Studio. Shortly after, a colleague introduced me to Lotus Gym VI to take their yoga classes. I began to earn from yoga and that’s another gift that kept on giving.

 

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I remember sometime ago when I used a yoga pose as my WhatsApp dp and my mom went into shreds about it  it was a headstand with Lotus feet. She sworn that I was out to kill my unborn children and become infertile  she said I was gonna die and all one could imagine! That was when I told her I was practicing yoga and it was healthy for me. I grew up as an asthmatic child and it grew worse as I grew older. Practicing yoga had helped me to control my breaths and survive very sore asthmatic attacks helping me understand how best to take care of myself. My mom never cares about this improvement - she went strait to my Pa and told him that the Devil has claimed me. A week later, I walk out of my office premises and see my Pa standing just right outside. I was truly shocked but that’s my pa’s style. He quietly asks to follow me home so we get to my house and the first thing he asks is my Yoga mat. I show him and yadiyadiyadiyadiya... you can imagine.

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After he was done, I then asked him to demonstrate how he stretches when he was hours at his desk working through the night. Irritated, he tried to show me some poses and then I began to correct his postures and helped him improve his breathing by maintaining more calm in each stretch. He said he felt better. I told him right then that I just assisted him in a short yoga practice of Backbends and shoulder stretches. He prayed for me that night and left for his Hotel. We never talked about it again since that day. My mom never mentioned it - I really don’t know what they think but I’m glad I could show them what I do - exactly.

 

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This journey has seen me frustrated beyond measure, fallen and injured from risky poses yet never giving up, unlearning & learning so many vital life lessons & philosophies, attaining a meta-physical mindset that I can do anything because if I could accomplish such impossible poses on the mat, certainly there’s nothing I couldn’t do; becoming patient with myself and mostly others, expecting nothing from anyone, focusing squarely on my goals & Never blaming anyone for any fault or issues, becoming sufficient for myself and learning self care, growing a community of yogis willing to live healthy and balanced lifestyles and more so, deepening my relationship with God beyond religion - I’ve learned to know God, to talk to him, to personally journey with him through all the tenets of my life and meditating on his word practically as it pertains to my daily life, learning to journal my thoughts, dreams, desires, troubles and mostly, my blessings to him. 

 

I’ve never existed in a more happier, golden, dazzling, faith-driven, purpose given, spiritual living and healthy lifestyle season in my Life. My mission is to live this way the rest of my Life. 
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So here's to many more anniversaries of my Yoga Journey 🥂 

Namaste

🙏🏽 

Tope HASSAN

Isoko Africa, Prince Bode Adebowale Crescent, Lagos, Lagos,

Tope Hassan, the multi-lingual Global African entrepreneur,  is the Founder of ISOKO AFRICA. She is an African Tourist, a Praticing Yoga Teacher, Advocate for African Brands and Public Speaker. She produces a weekly podcast on Midas Radio, iTunes Podcasts and Podcast for Android. She is dedicated to adding value to Afrca through her organisation, ISOKO Africa by exporting African brands to the global marketplace gaining them recognition and increased sales.

Tope specializes in Compliance & Public Relations to create multi-dimensional business systems where start-ups and multi-national companies can operate fairly in a corrupt free environment and standardized economy. You can follow her daily updates on her handle, @OfficialTopaz on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.