Judged as a teenager and now loving myself as an adult through yoga teacher training

I practiced for almost 10 years during my teenager time pretty intensely in rhythmic gymnastics, before I found my way into yoga in the year 2018 while traveling in Australia.


It's Yoga Tallinn graduate and facilitator Mathilde Roch-Penet shares her raw and straight from her heart story about yoga and rhythmic gymnastics


It was a beautiful experience, but a really competitive and intensive environment to be in when you are between the age of 12 to 20 years. As I was judged in all competitions by a minimum of 6 judges looking at the grace, technique, and execution of my show, I was also in this very competitive mindset. The shows themselves lasted only for 2 minutes maximum!


All this heavy preparation for 2 minutes show. I was really pushed on my flexibility and my physical aesthetic aspect too. I did not only had to execute an excellent performance, but I also had to look beautiful. My legs, feet, arms, and hands had to be always straight and makeup was an obligation. As I was still growing into a woman and searching for myself, this period was pretty intense. It felt like a little world in the world. At this time I was completely drawn into it and pushed my body hard into the limits. I remembered having to go once a month to the osteopath for my hips because they were regularly getting unbalanced due to the main use of my "good" leg. We were calling our good leg the most flexible leg for a split. We had to push more on the good leg for any figures.


What is the health behind this beauty?


This unbalanced practice is not healthy in the long term for the body, but when you are 15 years old and want the gold medal you don’t realize it yet. You have only one body for all your life, and you should never go over its limits for a performance of 2 minutes. I loved doing rhythmic gymnastic and it was a beautiful part of my life, but right now I feel I will slowly be paying some consequences of it in the future. But really, It’s never too late, I cannot repair the past but I can soften the future. I realized that when I was working in Australia on farms and started to do some yoga. Almost every day I was doing repetitive physical works outside. I wanted to find something to stretch and also activate my core muscles. I found some videos of yoga and followed them after work. I did not know exactly what I was doing and how I should be doing it, but I always felt good and kept doing these movements when I was on a road trip to exercise after long hours of driving.

My life changed with the yoga teacher training - from a beginner to a teacher


It’s only when I came back to Estonia, Tallinn in October 2018 that I decided to go to a yoga studio and start practicing with people around me and a teacher facilitating. I discovered It’s Yoga Tallinn and loved the energy in there. After some months of regular and irregular practice during the classes, I did my 200h teacher training in July 2019. This shift of taking the 200h training was not in any of my plans before but I had talks with the wonderful It's Yoga Tallinn director Marilyn and jumped into it. What made me feel I could to this training was the honest advice of Marilyn who told me it did not matter how long I have been practicing before to take on this journey, because it is about waking up my own inner teacher.  And it was true - what a life-changing journey! It might sound cheesy but it truly is. I learned and discovered through the training and with facilitating so many aspects of myself I did not know existed.


This practice has been quieting my competitive mind.

Moving while breathing to quiet the mind and let the body flow. No need to perform in any way, no need to put on makeup, no need to wear this or that, no need to have a body like this or that, no judgment, no competition. Just being on the mat for myself and sharing with others, honestly and being unique. This practice has been quieting my competitive mind and I am thankful for it, there is no need to compete in any way I feel. You don’t have to perform anything, be the best at anything it’s okay to be there, to just be.


You don’t need a medal to understand the value of your own being.

And that’s a life lesson I wish everyone could have a thought on. That’s what I am sharing while facilitating to others, to accept where you are, as you are, and be proud. Being proud of yourself no matter the medal, you don’t need a medal to understand the value of your own being. You are gold in any way, a humble warrior. Love yourself and others, as Larry Shultz said: "We practice to love ourselves to learn to love others more."


Photos: Personal and Marten Jaan Photography

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