My name is Tamsin Springer, I am 30 years old and am currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. I am yoga instructor and personal trainer running my own private fitness company called TAM Fitness. This company allows me to use my passion for yoga and all things related to health and fitness to help others start their own health and wellness journey. Initially, I operated as a mobile company, travelling to people’s homes or offices to train them, however, due to the COVID-19 lockdown I have now moved my company completely online and operate by offering clients live video sessions using Zoom.
Everyone has their own unique story and their own reasons for venturing down certain paths in life and this is my story; this blog outlines how I found yoga and what yoga has done for me. I first discovered yoga when my dad started doing it and I then tried it out for the first time in my early teenage years. My mom had a yoga video (yes, an actual video that you needed a video machine to watch) that I loved to do.
When I first started doing yoga, I found it really hard and realised I was not very flexible or strong; I thought downward facing dog was torturous! I remembers thinking, “if I have to do one more downward facing dog I am going to die!” Who would have thought that now downward dog is a resting pose for me and it’s a relief to be in this pose.
Despite finding it challenging, I felt amazing once I reached the end of that video. Somehow, after twisting my body into weird pretzel-like positions, I felt great, my body felt so light and my mind so calm and clear. This is when I fell in love with yoga and why I still love it – that feeling of calm and relaxation that washes over me at the end of a yoga session cannot be replicated.
I love the feeling of flowing and moving with the breath in an almost dance like fashion. For me, this is one of the best ways to de-stress and clear my mind.
Initially, I started off doing yoga sporadically but then, after a while, My dad and I formed a routine of doing yoga together. At first, it was just something we did on the weekends out in the garden but, after a few years, this transitioned into doing yoga every morning for 30 minutes before work. Once I moved out, we continued to meet up on the weekends to practice together. Even though we now live in two different provinces and are far apart, we still do yoga together, three times a week via Zoom.
Yoga has changed my life; I have learnt and absorbed so much information in my personal yoga journey so far! From a physical perspective, I have noticed a lot of amazing changes over the years. When I was younger, I had terrible posture but yoga has improved my posture tremendously and I no longer slouch when I walk; I stand confidently straight and tall. Furthermore, my balance, strength and flexibility have all improved significantly. When I first started yoga, I couldn’t even touch my toes and attempting something like chaturanga was not an option (at least not unless I wanted to land on my face). Now, I am able to get myself into positions I only ever dreamed of being able to do.
Yoga has also had a huge impact on me from a mental perspective. I am the type of person that gets stressed very easily, overthinks almost every situation and battles to just sit and relax. My attention span is erratic so I am often juggling a few things at a time which drives me crazy. There was a point a few years ago where I hit a low point and lost focus with work and spent so much time going back and forth trying to figure out exactly what it was I wanted to do with my life… I felt like I wasn’t actually good at anything and stressed about having not yet found myself while the years were ticking by. It was an exceptionally hard time for me as I watched people around settling into their lives in apparent contentment while I felt lost, confused, weepy and frustrated.
At that time yoga was a life-saver – the one thing I could do where I was completely lost in something and all the crazy in my head disappeared, just me flowing through the sequence, no thoughts, no stress, just calmness.
For me, this is still the biggest benefit to doing yoga – to have that time to just pause everything else for a while is so valuable.
Yoga has had such a positive impact on me physically and mentally that it’s a practice I want to share with the rest of the world. The feeling that washes over you as you lie in Savasana at the end of a sequence is a feeling I believe everyone should experience. And so, I developed a passion for health, fitness and yoga. As a result, despite having completed a postgraduate degree in Information Management and working in a corporate job, I ended up completely changing my career and now love being part of the yoga and fitness industry.
Initially, I studied to become a personal trainer. I then slowly started sharing my own yoga experience with people by integrating yoga into my personal training sessions and eventually decided to formally study to be a qualified yoga instructor. Teaching a yoga class brings me so much joy and although making the transition from a full-time corporate job to starting up my own company was tough and truly terrifying, I am so glad that I took the chance and made it work. I am also very lucky to have a family that has always been supportive of the things that I enjoys and am passionate about. Even though I may not be able to get everyone to try it out, they still support me and have helped me significantly in turning my passion for yoga into a career.
I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training n Rishikesh, India at Himalayan Yoga Association. This was an amazing experience! I arrived home feeling like a new person. Having that fully immersive yoga experience away from the stresses of normal life was life changing for me and I learnt a lot – both about the world of yoga and myself.
More importantly, I learnt that yoga is in an inward journey of self-discovery. Most of us are constantly chasing happiness, searching for things that will make us happy, satisfied or content. However according to yogic views, you cannot chase happiness, it is not something you can attain in material objects or in reaching certain destinations and milestones; happiness is something that comes from within. This peace, happiness and love that we chase after is inside us, we just need to find it.
Yoga has also taught me to live in the present, to be here right now, not to dwell on happenings of the past or stress about what is still to come. To truly live in this very moment! During my Yoga course, my teacher used the expression ‘the next breath is not yours’. He was trying to highlight that the future is unknown and that, by living in the past or future, you are losing your present life and that is something you can never get back, you don’t know when your last breath will be, so live a life that focuses on being in the present, in making the most of every moment that you have. I have also learnt that no person is perfect, but we can make small changes in our life that help shape us into being the person we truly want to be and to learn to find the happiness and peace within ourselves.
My absolute favourite yoga pose is Wild Thing (Camatkarasana). Interestingly, the name of the pose translates to mean “the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart.” I really enjoy this pose, I feel so strong and graceful in this position and it is a pose that you can flow in and out of so nicely. This pose helps to boost your energy and leaves you feeling joyful and accomplished. It may sound strange (you really need to try this pose to see for yourself) but being in this position just leaves you with this amazing feeling of accomplishment. I also loves balancing poses such as dancers pose because I like trying to find that stability in my body to hold a pose.
There are poses that I find challenging. As someone who has always battled with arm strength , arm balancing poses are very tough for me. I have learnt, though, that the key to overcoming a challenge is to just keep trying and to not give up. Each time you don’t get it right is not a failure but rather another step forward in your progress because you are trying. Practice definitely makes perfect and I have now mastered a couple of arm balances and I am very proud of myself for just pushing on and improving bit by bit with each practice. Finding where your weaknesses are and finding ways to overcome them is a rewarding challenge. I focused on exercises to help strengthen my upper body which, in turn, helped me when tackling poses like crow pose (also having pillows to catch you when you faceplant is a big help…I learnt this the hard way!)
Yoga also helped me overcome lower back pain a few years back. I managed to injure my back attempting a headstand that I wasn’t ready for yet. It was exceptionally painful and I was battling just to bend over or stand up after sitting for an extended period. After doing some research I found a yoga video that was designed for lower back pain and it really helped; I learnt which movements to avoid and focused only on what would help me recover. As a result, I avoided having to go for x-rays (which the doctor had suggested) and my back hasn’t given me any issues since.
Currently, I try to do yoga at least 4-6 days of the week. I love to do yoga first thing in the morning, there is just something about using yoga as a way to awaken my body and mind to get ready for the day ahead. I have made yoga practice part of my routine, as I finds that unless it is a part of my routine and I make a habit out of it, it becomes very easy to use the excuse “I don’t have time”.
Based on my experiences with yoga, I would highly recommend giving it a try. We are living in a world powered by stress, anxiety, long work days and very little physical activity, doing yoga is a great way to get the body moving whilst helping manage stress and anxiety.
I want people to know that yoga is for everyone! From the flexible to the inflexible, the young to the old, the fit to the unfit; no matter what stage of life you are in or what your exercise history is, you can definitely benefit from adding yoga to your life from both a physical and mental perspective. Yoga makes you feel better! Whether you are looking for a way to manage your stress, to strengthen and tone the body, to help heal certain ailments or just to add something new to an exercise regime, there are a number of great benefits you will experience.