Insight : Who is Laura Gwilliam?
I’m a spiritual and strong woman and I’m on a journey in search of adventure and inspiring souls. Being a creative I see possibility, opportunity and potential (almost) everywhere! Aside from yoga, I love being outdoors surrounded by nature, experimenting in the kitchen, traveling around this beautiful planet, spending time with friends, meeting interesting people and exploring philosophy and my spirituality.
The story behind the story
I was born and raised in Derbyshire, England by loving parents. My sister, Emma, shared most of the journey with me until I left home aged 18 with a heart full of adventure. In the year before University I embarked on a journey to the other side of world, Australia, and experienced my first of many trips to places near and far. After a year of exploration (and waaaaayy too many nights spent using a bag of wine, goon, as a pillow) I returned to the UK and began reading Law at The University of Manchester.
Six years followed.
I had ‘made it’ as a City lawyer...on Monday mornings I walked into some of the most reputable law firms in the world; yet I felt empty, devoid of happiness and I was on course towards self-destruction
In 2014 I qualified as a solicitor-advocate, specialising in commercial dispute resolution. In the two years following qualification I incorporated my own freelance legal practice working on projects for international law firms in the City of London. I also had a breakdown.
Aged 26, I found myself living a disillusioned dream. I had ‘made it’ as a City lawyer having studied, worked and invested in this ‘dream’ for many years and on Monday mornings I walked into some of the most reputable law firms in the world; yet I felt empty, devoid of happiness and I was on course towards self-destruction due to gruelling weekly schedules. Plagued by digestive health issues, periods of inertia and unhealthy attitudes resulting in self-hatred and zero self-esteem, I became withdrawn and depressed. I should have been happy, full of energy and life; I was in ‘my prime’. I knew where things were heading but I also thought that I was indestructible - apparently this stubborn, ignorance often rules 'the head' in your twenties. Thankfully (for I am now grateful for all that I endured) my mind and body brought an end to the crazy, disconnected life that I was living.
The breakdown resulted in me taking five-months out of work. I left London and returned to my ‘home’ to live with my husband in Northern Ireland. During this time I immersed myself in my own yoga self-practice and randomly started journaling my thoughts as a form of catharsis.
the disconnection between my mind, body and soul led me to suffer in ways I never anticipated
In the summer of 2016 I returned to London to work on another legal project but this time there was an end in sight: an end to both my legal career and the depression. It was an inspiring and exciting time as I immersed myself within the start-up community and was offered a number of freelance writing opportunities within the wellness industry.
Later that year I travelled to India to embark on my yoga teacher training RYT 200-hour certification at Sampoorna Yoga and within days of graduating as a yoga teacher, I found myself leading beach-front classes at a retreat! I stayed in Agonda for a further two months in order to gain as much teaching experience as possible. I now have experience teaching yoga asana, meditation and pranayama at all levels; from complete beginners through to students enrolled on yoga teacher training (TTC) programmes.
My take on depression
It is a journey that I never envisaged, nor desired to take, yet I know that it has arisen along my path for a reason. This approach to my illness can be a very hard 'pill to swallow' for it can at times be a tumultuous and debilitating experience. I never thought that I was a spiritual person, for years confidently claiming that I was an atheist and that was the end of exploration for me right there! Yet I have become increasingly aware of how the disconnection between my mind, body and soul led me to suffer in ways I never anticipated.
there is a way to rekindle the fire within and for me my recovery has landed me time and time again on a yoga mat
Yoga: teacher and student
I believe that there is a way to rekindle the fire within and for me my recovery has landed me time and time again on a yoga mat. After countless asana (physical yoga poses) practices in studios indoors and out, in countries near and far (sometimes taught in languages unknown), my intuition took me deeper. I have embarked on a journey of discovery (like many before me) into how yoga amounts to more than just a physical practice in which we bend, twist and strengthen our bodies but also our soul. Yoga is a lifestyle and a guide to self-discovery.
For me, yoga asana is a moving meditation. Meditation is the conscious exploration of who you are, what you stand for and what your soul yearns for. By focusing on the breath, prana (energy), controlling my exhalation and inhalation whilst creating shapes with grace and intention I feel my confidence grow. Like the process of homeostatis my yoga practice moves me closer to a balanced state of contentment and wellbeing.
I am not 100% sure where my yoga journey will take me, nor who I’ll meet along the way or what kind of person I will transition into. Right now I endeavour to deepen my own unique practice each day whilst also offering physically and emotionally engaging classes that aim to cultivate strong, dynamic and graceful bodies and healthy attitudes within the minds of each yogi. I aspire to inspire others through mindful meditations and asana practice to discover and explore their true self. Think: ‘considered movement with periods of mindful stillness’.
It can be incredibly difficult to reach out to others whilst you are consumed by agonising darkness and despair. You are not alone.
I have created this blog with the intention for it to be a place for inspiration and connection. I endeavour to share my thoughts and experiences with you, for it is an endeavour. It can be incredibly difficult to reach out to others whilst you are consumed by agonising darkness and despair. Navigating our way through the stresses and demands of our Western society alone, never mind also suffering from depression, can be a lonely ride and so I hope that my journey encourages you to live a happier and healthier life. You are not alone.
Right now I am...
dividing my life between the UK and the Western Sahara.
My energy and time are currently focused on heading up the yoga offering at Dakhla Attitude and making the most of the abundant opportunity for adventure out on the Atlantic Ocean. I'm learning to surf and will hopefully even be able to kitesurf one day in the not too distant future!
When I'm not in or on the Ocean I love to capture my surroundings through photography and word so you'll find me writing articles for this blog, preparing for yoga classes or with my head in a book.
The other half of my life is currently located in Northern Ireland (UK) where my husband (and two furry German Shepherds) is also busy focusing on his career. It is through his love, support and encouragement that I continue to live my life to the full and to grow as a unique soul. I feel so incredibly grateful to be able to share my life with such a beautiful and kind soul who respects my need for independence and adventure at this point in my journey. You can follow our collective adventure on Instagram @gwildernessadventures
I have exciting and ambitious plans for the future as I am working towards building a brand that inspires and encourages others to live healthy, sustainable and happy lives. Along my journey I intend to teach yoga amongst like-minded communities in beautiful locations around the world. One day I hope to be able to set down roots and would love to create a space that people could retreat to; somewhere that inspires creativity, adventure and growth.
Namaste. Love and light, Laura