Meet our Mental Health Champion @helenbashfordyoga. These are her words 💚

"My sibling tried to push me down the stairs when I was one. According to those present, it wasn’t a game, it was hatred. The event set the scene for my childhood sibling relationship. People think abuse only comes from parents, but the older I get the more I realise it can come from anywhere. My parents, struggling with their own issues, did nothing to stop it & I learnt early on to rely on no one, to power down & zone out when something kicked off

I left home fiercely independent, with a stubborn determination to prove my worth. I studied psychology & had a career in mental health but in hindsight this choice perpetuated old patterns. The jobs I had were often with violent people but I refused to quit, it’s only now I realise I spend most of my 20’s living in a permanent state of high alert . I loved my career & I learnt so much that helped me understand my family, but it never really taught me anything about me . I started yoga at 18 & mental health wise I do believe it has kept me afloat, but my love for yoga hasn’t come from what I learn on the mat but from what I learnt off it . Studying the science of yoga has taught me everything about me . I understand how ACE's & toxic stress play out in the body and how my childhood shaped my brain and nervous system. I realise I’m hardwired to shut down, and can see how this tendency has played out through much of my life, in hindsight probably setting me up for the birth trauma I experienced with my son . I understand why I can’t tolerate raised voices, being ignored, being belittled or being in the spot light & see how my negative reactions to any of these affects my relationships . Its given me the confidence to remove toxic people from my life knowing the damage they do .

Yoga has taught me how to read my body. I feel stress signals from my nervous system before my mind even registers there’s a problem, giving me more control over my reactions. I'm converted to the idea 'the body keeps the score.' Saved my life? Maybe not, but yoga has certainly saved my sanity"