Sadhbh and Sophie are neighbours in a quiet residential area of Bishopstoke, Hampshire and they both have young families. Here they talk about the importance of connection and describe how a shared love of yoga has helped their parenting and their creativity.
We are neighbours in a quiet residential area of Bishopstoke, Hampshire and we both have young families. Sadhbh moved to the area in 2010 and one of the first things she saw was Sophie’s children Felix (8), Leo (5), Yasmin (2) dressed up as tigers! Sadhbh said, ‘I knew this was a family I wanted to meet and I was delighted when Sophie, Chris and the kids called round to welcome us to the street’. However, it wasn’t until Sophie and Sadhbh started going to yoga classes together that they got to know each other better and learnt about yoga, parenting and creativity along the way.
Sophie, a lecturer in Criminology says, ‘Yoga is my tonic in life. It is a hobby that I have dipped in and out of for the last eleven years. Although there have been busy periods in that time when I haven’t joined a class for a while, I always seem to go back to it, especially during pregnancy and after birth. This may seem a little odd as these are no doubt very busy times – but the classes always had the amazing effect of centring me — putting things into perspective, giving me a chance to have some relaxation time for myself but at the same time energizing me for the week ahead!’
For Sadhbh who works part-time as a copy editor, yoga is an invaluable tool to find peace and relaxation as well as friendship. ‘For me, my yoga class is a central part of my week. It brings my focus back to my breathing and to what is important in life. But I am a terribly lazy person and I find that having a friend like Sophie to knock on my door and drag me to class is simply wonderful. And my yoga class starts on the walk to the local sports centre. We discuss what we’ve done the week before and we inevitably turn to the subject of families, the funny things our children do and the general insanity of parenthood. ‘Tara asked me to get her a unicorn today’ (me). ‘Leo is pretending to be a meerkat’ (Sophie). Sophie’s kids are older than mine and she is my go-to-parent when I have a question. The nice thing about having a friend with older children is that you trust their experiences and when they say ‘yes, Felix did the same thing’ you instantly breathe a sigh of relief. Because they are your friend they are diplomatic and say things like ‘well, we didn’t exactly experience that’ when your child does something off that wall. And I feel that going to yoga together has really developed our friendship. I feel I can tell Sophie anything.’
Sophie agrees. ‘I think there are times in your life when you meet people who become your friend whom you ‘click’ with from the very start. In 2010 I met two significant women — Laura Fisher our yoga teacher who has the amazing ability to be very perceptive and is able to tune in to what you need from a class each week and my yoga buddy Sadhbh. It is great for me to have a friend who has the same parenting values and view on life and both understand the importance of our time for ourselves when we choose to go to yoga. Yoga gives us the time and space to recharge our energy that we need for our young families. But it is so much more than relaxation — it gives us physical challenges which in turn boosts self confidence in our abilities and enables us to reflect on how we are balancing things in our life at that moment. Are we pushing too hard or are we not facing up to a new challenge?
On our walk home from yoga (dodging the traffic and the dog poo) we are both blissed out and achy which is not quite that bad. It’s always good to rediscover parts of your body that haven’t seen exercise in a while. And, of course, we say how much we want to practise our yoga more but it often doesn’t happen. There is something very comforting in knowing that you have a yoga buddy who will encourage your and laugh if you don’t get round to your overambitious target of three hours of yoga before breakfast.
Our joint enthusiasm for yoga has now led to us forming a club for the other passion in our life — writing. We both wanted to write and our yoga-inspired conversations have led us to form ‘Ladies Literary Circle’ (the lovely if slightly sardonic title given to us by Sophie’s husband Chris). This is basically an excuse to meet every Monday morning and while we mostly drink coffee and stop our children from terrorizing Sophie’s dog Nuri we sometimes get round to writing. Although we both benefit from a natter to de-brief about the week before, this time does have the effect of encouraging us both to keep writing. What we hadn’t realised until very recently was that writing and yoga are very much connected. Self-reflection or Svadhyaya is a key part of yoga as well as the poses and writing is a perfect way of reflecting about one’s thoughts, perspectives and actions. To be reflective is essential in order to move forward in the yoga journey. Laura ends her yoga class with a quote and we like to reflect on these quotes to explain our actions or difficulties that we may be having in our lives such as problems with our work or family. Our lives tend to be so ‘now’, so pressurised that the hour session of yoga a week gives us an opportunity to contemplate and translate that contemplation into our parenting and our writing. We may never write best sellers but our yoga-inspired journey into creativity has been a very positive influence on our lives and our families. Who would have thought a weekly yoga class could give so much?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Sadhbh O’Dwyer is a copy editor. She is originally from a small rural village in Ireland but has lived and worked in many different places including a Japanese secondary school and a French fast food restaurant. She lives in Hampshire with her husband Marcus and their two children Tara (4) and George (1). She writes at www.niceirishlady.wordpress.com.
Sophia Armstrong is a lecturer and barrister. She spent her childhood in Bahrain and loves Middle Eastern food. Her hobbies include yoga, walking and woodwork. She lives in Hampshire with her husband Chris and their children Felix (8), Leo (5) and Yasmin (2). Read about Sophie’s year of not spending money at www.roundayearonashoestring.blogspot.co.uk.