How yoga changed my life: Mary Parkinson’s story

An incredible and courageous story of the profound influence of yoga on one teacher's life

How yoga changed my life: Mary Parkinson’s story

“My recovery from addiction is a spiritual practise and I had never been able to be still until I found yoga – it profoundly changed my life – the only thing more profound was actually stopping using drugs.…”

WRITTEN BY Evolve Wellness Centre

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In October 1990 I was at the end of my road with drug addiction. I was homeless, my possessions were in black plastic bags, I was unemployable, my family were not speaking to me, I was dirty and the only thing could still do was Run!

Fortunately for me, I ended up in rehab in Wiltshire at a place called Clouds (I now work for the charity!). It was while I was there that my therapist said to me ‘You should try yoga’ as I bolted out of the door on yet another run! I got better, so did my life. I spent most of my first year at Holmes Place Health club on the Fulham road and after 3 years trained as a personal trainer. Sporadically, remembering the words of my wise therapist, I would go to a yoga class taught by a wonderful woman called Elizabeth – a very senior Iyengar teacher. This would normally result in several hundred pounds worth of physio bills as I tried to contort my stiff runners body into shapes it had not achieved since I was about 8! One day I ended up in an Ashtanga Vinyasa class and some sort of penny dropped – I loved it! Over the next few years I became very ill – developing Ulcerative Colitis which wrecked my life. I could not leave the house sometimes, so I started to practise yoga at home. Then in 1999 I went on a yoga holiday – because I fancied the yoga teacher (who was engaged to be married it transpired) and it was then that I really got it and 6 months later I trained as a yoga teacher and have never looked back.

My recovery from addiction is a spiritual practise and I had never been able to be still until I found yoga – it profoundly changed my life – the only thing more profound was actually stopping using drugs. I have always wanted to work with recovering people but not exclusively. I know so much from personal experience that all I can do with anyone is plant the seed – how it grows is not up to me.

In 2010 I heard about evolve opening and I came to see Corinne and Adrian to ask if I could do a class for people in recovery and others. Luckily for me they said ’YES’ and I have never looked back. I wanted it to be affordable and thus open to all. So for the last 5 years you can get an hour and a half of yoga for £5 in Chelsea at 3 pm on Wednesdays. Fortunately, there is a rehab in the mews – Start to Stop – and they tell their clients about the yoga and sometimes they come and sometimes not. I love the class – we do what we want and everyone is welcome. It is not exclusively for recovering people – just a lovely affordable yoga class!

I am so grateful to evolve wellness centre for supporting me in this venture and I look forward to many more years working together.