We all have a story. All that has lead to where we are today and made us who we are. I respect that we each have our own unique path. I share with you a tiny, snapshot of mine and what has inspired and influenced me to do the work I do. I’ll save the nitty gritty for a book some day! For now I offer this to you, from my heart and remind you that each day is a new opportunity to write your own new chapter.
During my teens and early 20’s, I was desperately unhappy yet did not know it. Escape came via intense partying and nasty self-loathing antics such as rigid diets, frantic exercise and a vicious inner critic. At 22, when my grandmother passed away, the grief became a portal to begin acknowledging the acute anxiety, daily panic attacks, insomnia and extreme fatigue that were holding my life hostage.
By nature, very sensitive and empathic, with a fire and passion for life, I knew deep down that there must be a greater life beyond fear. I knew that there was a kinder, more loving and peaceful version of me waiting to be discovered, one who wanted to live and love life fully. My mission to find her.
I was born and grew up in London. Travel was my passion and by age 21 I’d been lucky enough to have visited many places, lived for a stint in Australia and worked as air cabin crew for an international airline. However, a new journey was taking beginning, both inner and outer and this was the start of a whole new adventure that came with a few unexpected surprises!
Beginning in 2002, I dedicated the following years to exploring a wide range of healing methods. I met some of the most loving, authentic teachers whom I still deeply revere. Equally, I came across a few charlatans spreading woo woo shit and rapidly closed those doors!
Asia travels. Yearning, curious and searching for something. Peace, safety, inspiration, connectivity, a place that felt like home maybe…I may not have found all I was seeking but I did discover yoga for the first time in a village called Pai in Northern Thailand. Thank the sweet heavens for that! A gift that has stayed with me ever since.
In 2004, I created Ginger Pai to share all that was helping me transform my life for the better, hoping to connect others with the people, places and things that inspired and made a difference in my life. Yielding to my itchy feet and embracing my distant Spanish roots I set off once again.
Family connections led me to Andalucía, Spain. Here I met my dearest teacher Nalanie Chellaram, who guided me to the spiritual heart of yoga for the first time. I began to understand that this stuff was not just about a bendy body but had more to do with understanding the true self and cultivating a steadiness of mind. Professional Bio. After some twists, turns and yes, a broken, shattered heart, I reluctantly left Spain and headed back to the UK. Relationships, wow what a mirror to my own soul! To the kind ones and the mildly bonkers ones too, I truly thank you for the lessons! I learned that the only thing I can change is myself. ‘learn to love yourself first’; so bloody true!
London, what a melting pot it was! I had the opportunity to study with fantastic teachers and thought leaders, to expand my own teaching practice and host beautiful intimate events, supporting others with a wholehearted message to be seen and heard. I was deeply grateful for how far my life had come, yet there was a stubborn niggling, an unmet dream that I just couldn’t let go of. As cliche as it sounds, I had a longing to live in a warm city with soul, close to the ocean, a place I could feel resonance. I felt strangely homesick for a place I had not yet found. Until…
Then along came Lisbon. I fell in love with the city, took the leap with my darling dog Ernesto in tow and waved goodbye to London town! (Ok this is a very brief version!) I realised that with courage I could turn my dreams into reality.
A couple of years later I was happily settled in Lisbon. I’d come to a place in my life where I felt the best I ever had. I loved where I lived, wholesome friendships surrounded me, my coaching and teaching work was flourishing and I was in a relationship with a man I loved very much. I was so grateful for the life I had created and all the people who who were part of it. It had taken dedication and a few ups and downs but was so worth it!
However, in 2014, just as life was appearing to finally fall beautifully into place, I was faced with my worst nightmare. I received a late night call. It was my dad and step mum at the end of the line, almost unable to speak, they gave me the horrific news that my mum had died by suicide.
She was my best friend, the one who believed in me always. We should have had so many more moments to live together as mum and daughter yet, in an instant, life as I knew it had gone. Shortly after mum’s death my relationship with my partner came to an end and during the following years my beloved dog companion Ernesto, passed away! I felt like my entire being had been ripped apart. I thought I knew what pain and heartbreak felt like but nothing compared to the agony and shock that I had now been catapulted into living. The years to follow brought a mix of confusion and chaos alongside new insights, as I embarked on learning how to live again…
Grief is not a linear process. It comes in all shapes and sizes, feeling like a tornado has ripped through your life. I felt alone, I wanted to run, I did run! I thought I could bypass and fast forward grief by launching myself into hardcore, intensive solo retreats in far flung places, searching for love and trying to keep up an appearance of ‘I’m doing fine’. The truth was I was in agony and crumbling inside. I slipped into old negative patterns until my body also broke down with acute pain and the fatigue was back with vengeance completely immobilising me.
This pain was here to be seen, felt and heard. It could not be pushed away or forced to be anything else anymore. It needed patience and was calling for compassion on a whole new level. It was time to stop, to face the discomfort head-on and be my own loving friend. Simultaneously reaching out for support. This was not an easy invitation to accept yet one that I learned to say YES to. It was the most raw, messy, bizarrely beautiful human experience I have endured yet. Grief is profoundly personal and unique for each one of us, yet also something that most people will face in varying degrees in their life. There is something truly humbling and unifying when we start to accept our pain and embody all that makes us human. We give space for each other to do the same. We connect and we can start to heal.
I’m stronger, steadier and more determined than ever before. All that I have learnt over the past 17 years makes sense on a whole new level. I discovered new things and ways of being that support me where I am at today. The ongoing practice of acceptance and self-compassion, gentle yoga / movement, bodywork, prayer and choosing company wisely, became simple yet profound foundations to welcoming my new life. I’m excited for the future and grateful for little things every day.
I discovered that we are all a work in progress, we may not ‘get over’ our losses but we can create a new beautiful life alongside them. Strength can be found in gentleness, self-care is non-negotiable, and that, despite the tremendous pain, grief can be a mysterious invitation for greater self-knowledge and an opening to a deeper level of love and connection in our lives. Joy is no longer a distant dream she is my daily visitor. For this, I am truly grateful. For my life and all of those sharing it with me: Family, friends, teachers and clients here, loved ones on the other side. I thank you with all my heart for your part in my journey.
I am delighted to share with you through Ginger Pai and look forward to connecting with you online or in person soon.
Compassion Courage Connection
Love Carly xox