Namaste and welcome to GEM Yoga, my name is Grace Elizabeth Mullany and I’m originally from West Yorkshire in the UK. My first experience of yoga came as a child from my mums colourful yoga books dotted around the house, the postures in which I read about but never practised. Growing up I took more of an interest in running and rock climbing. Over time I noticed my body, especially my hips and lower back, becoming increasingly painful. I’d sometimes limp my way home after a long run! After persevering and having numerous different massages, I finally learnt that running just wasn’t doing my body any good so I reluctantly hung up my running shoes, searching for something to take its place.
My friend and I started discovering yogis online, along side different sequences, not really understanding what we were doing or why we were doing them. I suppose at first I saw the postures as a challenge and an accomplishment when I could finally do them. Over time I found classes to go to as well as continuing following online sequences at home. Eventually I realised it was more than just being able to touch my toes; I felt calm, I slept better and so didn’t need as much sleep. Aches in my body were no longer there and I could control stressful situations by simply adjusting my breathing. I felt alive! Running gave me the chance to clear my mind and keep fit but at the downfall of my physical well being, yoga was the answer to having all of my cake and eating it.
My interest in yoga grew as I started to understand the different styles and variations, and how to deepen my postures. My mat started to come everywhere with me until in January 2015 I decided my mat and I were going to India – Rishikesh to be exact. Even my breathing couldn’t calm the day I left Manchester airport alone to fly over to that magical place. My experience in India gave me the opportunity to really understand where Yoga comes from and why it is so important to their culture.
A three month intensive course at Vinyasa Yoga School gave me life long friends and my RYT certificate. It involved long days of studying Meditation, Pranayama, Anatomy, Mantras and some physically challenging Vinyasa and Hatha classes. Even though, by the end of my time in India i was physically exhausted, my mind had never been as clear and focused. On my return i started teaching small classes here and there but still felt like there was something missing. The Winter of 2016 came, as did the decision for my partner and i to pack in our jobs and house and set sail for an adventure of a lifetime.
We melted in the presence of the forever smiling Burmese people, and watched in awe at the love and affection the Thai people showed one and other. We shed tears as we listened and learned the history of the most gentle race, the Khmer people of Cambodia. We became inspired by the work ethic of the Vietnamese and envious of how many different religions appear to be living in peace in Kuala Lumpur. We drank too much beer in Bali before pushing our bodies and opening our eyes to new limits by trekking through the Himalayas in Nepal. Finally we relished in the colours and smells of India, from the South all the way to my old Yoga school in the North, where i got the honor of meeting and talking to the new students.
Throughout the trip i topped up my knowledge when it came to the physical aspect of yoga by attending more classes and courses, and i will of course continue to top this up, after all we never stop learning. I also gave a lot of my attention to how differently each teacher interprets yoga, for example you may attend a class in which the teacher gives a very short relaxation period at the end or only refers to the postures in English instead of Sanskrit. You may find a teacher who never adjusts or aligns you or one that won’t let you just have a go; the truth is Yoga can be whatever you want it to be, but is also an extremely personal thing – I have jumped about from teacher to teacher trying to find someone who makes me feel safe, but who will also guide me into a deeper practice.
On my return to the UK I was in desperate need of some routine back into my life and it was now that my passion turned to Ashtanga Yoga. My daily practice is taken from the Primary series and I attend weekly Mysore classes with KPJAYI Level 2 authorised teacher Joey Miles.
As a yoga teacher i only have one aim and that is to ensure you leave my class happier than when you came in. We may achieve this through some guided mediation or from me supporting you in those deeper poses, either way GEM Yoga aspires to make your Yoga journey a happy one.