from drama to dharma

moving from existing to living your dream life

In my twenties there was way too much drama for my liking. I am not broadcasting I was a drama queen, actually far from it. I was shy, I lacked self confidence and had absolutely no idea which direction to go in. Wait. I’m not another yoga teacher needing to regurgitate the *stuff* I’ve been through (I’m not knocking those spirited and brave trailblazing tell-all teachers), it’s just that I want to share with you how my life moved on in a good way and how yoga helped turn my drama to dharma.

I went to my first yoga class armed with two friends. I stayed on but they fell away after a few lessons. I can honestly say I knew from that first practice that yoga was for me. I felt a connection. Five years after a regular practice I found some courage and dived enthusiastically into an amazing teacher training course. If you are considering doing one, be prepared because they change your life!

Off my mat those pesky life drama’s kept rolling up. I kept getting deeply affected by them and by the time I was in my thirties I had wracked and stacked up an impressive amount of clobber. Don’t think I’m moaning because it wasn’t all bad – it was more like behind the emotionally and mentally charged baggage were hidden sore scars. We’ve all got them but it’s how we nurse them to wellness that makes the difference to our dharma.

Through all the skillful stacking I faithfully rolled out my mat and noticed subtle changes whilst I was practicing. Changes in my physical body that cuddled my emotional body. Yes I liked to open my hamstrings, hips and shoulders and why not because I sat at a desk for most of my working day. But it was the subtle internal (can’t quite put my finger on it) changes I liked the most. I was reacting less in situations I might have previously opened my mouth or put my foot in. Not all my problems needed to be neatly cleaned and wrapped up – it was OK to let things be. So I was stacking less and doing a bit more unwrapping and it felt oh so good.

So what does dharma mean? Dharma is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is an ancient language used by the yogis with roots in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The language of yoga. The simplest translation according to Hinduism is that dharma means right way of living or living the right way for you. I actually quite like Sanskrit. I like the exoticness of the pose names like Trikonasana, Sukhasana and Parsvottanasana and I use them in my teachings with an English explanation. My yoga teacher training eventually concluded. I was bulging with knowledge and had become part of a large yoga family and secretly unbeknown to me, a life changing seed was quietly propagating.

By now I had practiced yoga for about a decade and was practicing on both physical and spiritual levels and also enjoying the challenge of running evening yoga classes. My day job, however, was seriously grinding me down and going against all I was doing on my mat. I spent so much time being in conflict. Finding that delicate balance between work and yoga was wearing. Like a slap in the face with a P45 I worked out the conflict as so obviously drama vs dharma. It was time for me, my husband and our sometimes grumpy ginger cat to take a big jittery jump and have that lifestyle change we had talked about. We decided to leave our country for a while and renovate a cranky old house we had bought a few years earlier in Portugal. Perhaps quite a dramatic way to deal with drama you might think. Maybe we were even running away from it but like all good plans we had gone over it for a few years, plotting and planning, and we felt an adventure was what we needed. Change town for country living in a different country. Our relentless life drama was making us unhappy and it was time for us to change that. We were going to swap drama for rubble, logs, painting, weeding, rendering, digging – I think you get the picture. We also swapped the weather.

A few years on we’ve seriously toiled, sweat, ached, laughed and I’ve also cried over stupid things – mostly when I’m over tired. But thankfully, the pointless drama has vanished. We still worry about all the normal things but we have more control over our lives and with that comes the sense of freedom and space. We are doing our own thing and living the right way for us. Living the dharma dream.

On one of my regular visits back to England I was asked by an eminent yoga teacher from my training school what I was doing now. I hadn’t seen her for a while and she was interested to know. I could hear myself explaining my new life but inwardly thinking am I really talking about myself? Good grief, that sounds fantastic! Her face gave it all away. She was shocked! “Wow, you are living your dharma darling.” Not that I was looking for validation but it was really nice to get it. Sometimes it pays off to take that leap especially if you have travelled inwards on your yoga mat to then travel outwards into your life with real sincerity and clarity.

My life may still have moved in this direction without yoga. However, the difference is now I’ve done it not just from the head but from the mind, body and spirit too. Yoga definitely helped me discover the right way to live; it helped me discover my dharma. Both on and off your mat get to know your dharma and go for it!


Contact Justine, Founder & Owner Sweetyoga on

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