Humans of Barefoot #3: Sarah

Sarah Shelley at Barefoot Yoga Kings Heath - Humans of Barefoot

Humans of Barefoot explores the fascinating stories behind our members, and how yoga has helped them. Devoted Kings Heath Barefooter, Sarah, speaks about weight loss, dedication and managing her headspace after difficult days at work.

How did you get into yoga?

I’d been thinking about doing yoga for some time.  A friend of mine is a yoga teacher and she had been talking about to me about the benefits. But I didn’t want to go to a gym environment. I knew I’d make an excuse not to go. So when I saw the advert for the Kings Heath studio being set up, I thought, ‘this is perfect. It’s practically on my doorstep – I’ll go and take a look.’

At the time, I’d gone through losing a lot of weight. I had an obsessive mindset: it was all about the diet, it was all about what I ate, the exercise programme I was doing and there was nothing else in my life. You lose sight of everything else around you.”

Had there come a point where you decided to lose all the weight?

“Absolutely. I was morbidly obese, 25 stone. My health wasn’t great and my mobility was starting to suffer. That’s not where you want to be. To change that was a difficult journey, taking the best part of two years. But it was all-encompassing. I worried about it every waking moment.

I needed something for me. I’d lost all this weight; I’ve got this body that I’m unfamiliar with – I needed to reconnect with who I am as a person. I wanted to go somewhere where I could have some ‘me time’, where I didn’t have to worry about what I eat or how I look. Just be.”

So starting yoga wasn’t a purely physical decision? 

“Yes! I turned up to my first class thinking it would be all about improving my strength and flexibility, but by the end, I realised it was all about my headspace – getting rid of these obsessive thoughts and learning to accept who I am… Just to be me.

I’m an MRI radiographer, so I deal with a lot of patients who have a life-limiting illness or life-ending illness. That’s quite emotionally demanding during the day – you take a lot of that on board yourself.  Patients fear a bad diagnosis; the procedure… brings out a lot of emotion. They quite often feel that they can download their information to you – sometimes very unpleasant stories.

Yoga offers me that time to accept that I’ve received that information, but I don’t have to store that information as a negative force inside me. I wasn’t expecting that to be a nice side effect of coming to Barefoot. It’s cheesy to say that it has changed my life, but it brings a lot that I didn’t have before.”

You’ve been doing yoga for six months now – how would you explain the difference it’s made to your life?

“Barefoot has definitely made a difference, but not in the same way as going to the gym three times a week. It’s more holistic than that; a systemic improvement in my body and my mind.

Spirituality is a broad word, but yoga has given me a connection with something more than me. I’m not particularly religious but I am scientific – I believe in energy and that we have an effect on the world by being a certain way. Ultimately, being a more positive and relaxed person means people react to me very differently.”




Keep your eyes peeled for Humans of Barefoot #4 next week. Check out all of the Humans’ stories here. Sarah gave up her morning to share her story and for that, I’m so grateful. While you’re here, have a look at her Instagram and give her a follow!

And if you would like to be a part of the project, just let us know at the Front Desk!