Get to Know Camyogi: Paula Williams
Name: Paula Williams
Age: 59 Occupation: Retired
What brought you to yoga?
Ever since I was a kid I was heavily into sports. When I left school I joined a gym and became a regular gym bunny. I worked out twice a week with a personal trainer, went running 5 miles a day and was at the gym very day. All this and I was putting on weight not losing it. I needed to get a life, I think, although I have to say I absolutely loved every minute of it except the weight gain. I couldn’t understand why I had a weight problem with all this exercise. I carried on like this for years and had people who didn’t know me, telling me to lose weight I needed to get to the gym, and people who knew me telling me the gym obviously wasn’t working. I still carried on because it was such a huge part of my life and I thought I couldn’t do without it.
For years I put up with friends watching my weight for me and eventually I stopped seeing these friends as I realised they were making me even more unhappy about my weight. I could do that for myself without their help. I went to see a few nutritionists who didn’t seem to be a lot of good either. After a great deal of surfing the internet I found a nutritionist in Harley Street who I really felt could help me so I arranged to see her. She took some samples from me which was sent off to a lab but she said she knew what the problem would turn out to be. She said with all the exercise I was permanently stressing my body so it was in a constant state of fight or flight. This meant everything I ate was being stored as fat (even salad). My immune system couldn’t handle the stress either so I was constantly getting colds etc. When the results came back the outcome was that I had drained my adrenals and this in turn had had an effect on my thyroid (my thyroid was functioning but the T4 process wasn’t). She told me the heavy training and running had to go. She told me to take up yoga instead as she felt I could do this every day without hurting myself. It would be quite a while to get my adrenals back up to speed and I needed to eliminate the stress from my life. Easier said than done but at least I can feel in my body when I am getting stressed now so I throttle back.
I started yoga 3-4 years ago and during this time have lost 4 stones in weight. I still have some to lose but at least I feel like I am getting there. When I first started yoga I really struggled and some of the poses actually made me cry because my body was hurting. This was because my body was so tight from the stress. I feel like a different person now. I only wish I had discovered the nutritionist and the yoga earlier. Still it’s never too late!!! I now do yoga every day – if I cannot get to a class then I do it at home.
What do you do when you are not doing yoga?
I love music, films, travel and being outside. We moved to Cambridge from London at the end of October 2012. I feel really privileged to live here. It feels like a really special place. Cambridge has so much to offer with City living but also so much countryside on the doorstep. I also love going out to eat now (particularly as there are so many lovely foodie spots here) and I can eat without feeling guilty.
What is your favourite yoga pose and why?
One of my favourite poses is child. I think the reason for this is because with all the heavy training I never felt in control of my body. My body just hurt. In child I feel like everything has been let go of and it brings a total sense of freedom and lightness. I also like tree for the same reason as long as I can keep my balance. If I want a strong pose then I really like warrior.
What is your least favourite yoga pose and why? My least favourite pose would have to be eagle. There are also a couple of others I am not fond of (forward bending and shoulder stand). The reason for this is because my body still needs work to free it and I really struggle in these positions. I know the longer I do yoga the better I will become at these poses and then I will grow to like them.
What is one quality you have taken off the mat and incorporated into your daily life?
To try and stay calm. I never knew what this feeling of calm was until I started yoga. I listen to my body now and if I am tired I just say no. This is something I would never have done before I started yoga. I was an all or nothing person.
An interesting fact about Paula that you may not know is…
Can’t think of one. (I beg to differ, see above story! Anna)