A Life in Salutations – What I have learned over 51 years

noeleen birthday photo

Well, I have just finished 51 Sun Salutes to celebrate my birthday. I did fifty last year to mark the big 5-0 so I seem to have started a tradition.  I practice most days in my new (well, newish) sun room.  Today however there was little sun and my beautiful view was tinted with grey hues and lots of Leitrim rain.  I didn’t let that dampen my resolve.


I decided to do 7 rounds at a time, as a way to keep me focused and keep the count. I paused after the first 14 rounds for a few breaths, and then after every 7 rounds up to the 49th salute.  During these pauses I began to contemplate the numbers and realised that I was counting out my life in breath and movement.


Aged 14

I was having what I can only describe as an idyllic ‘girlhood’ with all my friends. We were horse mad and would work in the local stables as a barter for riding lessons. We cycled, swam (I grew up by the sea), went to the Dandelion market, wore grandfather shirts and drainpipe jeans and really life couldn’t have been better.  Incidentally it was around this time that I tried my first yoga class.  My friend and I giggled our way through and thought it best not to go back.


Aged 21

I was living in Jersey in the Channel Islands and playing at being grown up. Living on my own, working, paying my way and of course playing hard too.  It was a pretty hedonistic lifestyle and I took to it like a duck to water.  I made some great lifelong friends but was glad when I eventually got off the Merry Go Round as my dad called it.


Aged 28

I met and married my gorgeous husband Brendan Murphy in San Francisco. This coupled with the decision to come back to Ireland after almost a decade plus the discovery of yoga a couple of years beforehand was a life changer.   San Francisco I still miss you!


Aged 35

My first son Daragh was born. Nothing prepared me for the awe inspiring, terrifying, empowering and exhausting role as mother.  Also, I was about to give birth to what seemed like my second kid a lot of the time – Ard Nahoo!

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Aged 42

My second actual son was born just before I was 40 and when he arrived he brought a lot of clarity, and made me reconsider where I was at with my family life and business life. By 42 I had made some very crucial business decisions that changed the quality of my life immensely.  As always in my life I found that when I had the courage to shut one door that no longer served me another door opened and showed a glimpse of possibilities for the future.  I decided to do more yoga teacher trainings and commit to life as a yogi.

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Aged 49

Oh dear, the shadow of 50 haunted this year! I really didn’t like the thought of it.  I would be eligible to join some Active Age groups and get Golden Year reductions in hotels, ugh!  As it happened, once the day was over and I mooched on into the year I started to feel happy about it.  I was fit and strong, happier than I have ever been and deeply supported by my family and friends.


Aged 51

The here and now. I sit on my yoga mat with the glow that comes from a deep practice and really I can’t think of any place I would rather be.  I practice the ‘So Hum’ mantra (I am that) and become the November sky, even if it’s grey and raining.  I am truly grateful.