I am Yoga and it is me. The practice is a life style and form, a way of living. My body is the vessel of yoga’s life and in return, yoga moves my life forward. Balance between physical and mental thoughts and an alignment of mind, body, and soul. With the practice of inhaling positive thoughts and feelings, stretching further to reach my goals be it a difficult pose or goal off the mat, yoga has trained me how to put a confident step forward. Exhaling the negative, release of self-doubt, fear, distrust, I am one with myself and the world around me. The practice of yoga is not just a good habit I’ve picked up over the years, it is as much apart of my life as the food I consume and the hope I have for tomorrow morning.
Through-out my teenage years and into the start of my new-found adulthood, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety. Self hate, mutilation, and so on. I was lost in the sea of the world and everything it had to offer with no way to hang on. Breath would lock in my lungs with no form of escape. Emotions were unbalanced and baffling all at the same time. The idea of even being able to properly express what I was feeling was impossible. My dark disease only grew; taking on such heavy artillery and just about anything was a trigger. I did not eat. I did not sleep. I did not feel. A void so deep, hate had free reign and it’s flame grew uncontrollably.
Life continued like this. Leaving my high school early to home school, I missed the important milestones such as prom, graduation, the summer before college, and even college. When I did try my hand at schooling, I became so overwhelmed with my insecurities and fears and self hate, I simply left and never returned. How could I decipher what I wanted to study and do with my life when at that point, I didn’t even want life itself?
Still struggling with these ever-present battles, I also took on working full-time and paying bills as everyone does when they accept life as an adult. It wasn’t even that I accepted it, it just was. It just was how life goes, I thought. The moment of my Aha! Moment is something I will never forget. On a sunny April afternoon, my boyfriend at the time’s mother noticed the above average state of distress I had been in. She suggested I try a Yoga DVD she picked up and she herself had tried a handful of times. What did I have to lose?
Power Yoga with Rodney Yee, a GIAM production, was the practice. It was tough as nails, too! Having been athletic and active in sports or dance my entire life, I didn’t expect how incredibly hard it was. Reflecting back, I’ve realized it wasn’t the physical activity which was so difficult. It was the emotional work-out I went through. The segment included a meditation piece at the end. My breath was uncontrolled, a wild and furious force of air that I was forcing from the flow moments before. Surprise had my ears wide open for Mr. Yee’s calm instructions. Hands settling upon either side of my worn out frame, my lids crashed closed and I quickly fell into compliance with the mediation process.
Three important things became crystal clear after my first yoga practice. The first being I felt good. I mean, Good; Really Good. Better than I had in years. In-tune with my long lanky limbs, I felt like I could focus on what it was I needed to do that day, week, and maybe about a month down the line. That came from control of my thoughts. They were no longer a caged bird fighting for escape.
This bled into the second gem I had uncovered. I wanted to continue to feel like this all the time, if I could help it. Yoga was my shining beacon upon an otherwise foggy and bleak outlook. Somehow it broke through that haze and penetrated my heart. I was hooked and it had been about forty-five minutes anything even remotely relating to yoga had entered my life.
Finally, it had me reassess my life fully. Meditation had opened a window and a fresh breeze blew in to shake the dust from their corners. Clearly I was unhappy and clearly it was something that could be changed. Commitment took on a new meaning that day.
Equipped with these tools of thought, I explored further. I researched blogs for the benefits of this new life-style I wanted. The life style I needed. Steady practice now taking place on the daily for me, my confidence sky-rocketed and more importantly, I started to discover myself as a person. My skin fit and I was learning how to laugh in those sticky situations. The process wasn’t over night, just asRomewasn’t built in a day.
Living on my own and working a full-time job that did not require any specific soft of education besides previous experience, I dedicate my time to yoga. Be it reading about its past and the philosophies which fuel it in books or articles on the internet or watching interviews with teacher and mentors. I have even started a blog to record the thoughts, ideas, and anything else that practicing yoga has inspired me with.
At the start of the 2012 year, I could feel my depressive episodes picking up again. This time I focused on what was causing it and how I could change that. Any way I looked, the answer was obvious. My employment. I was not happy or nearly as productive as I could be. I also am not doing what I love. There’s a saying my sister has told me often. Do what you love and love what you do, but don’t do it for free. The last bit wasn’t really anything I paused on for long but she did have a very solid point. Well, I asked myself, what is it I love to do? Sure I have a list of hobbies and passions I pursue but what is it I love to do all the time? That I would want to build my life around so I could dedicate said life? Perform at my best?
I pondered these questions over and over; mulling them as I practiced my yoga and meditation in hopes an answer would come to me as so many have before this way. No avail took place. It confused me since this method had worked before when I was struggling to find my answers. I did more yoga. More flows through out my day. A morning wake-up or sun salutation before breakfast and work. A de-stress and reenergize round in the afternoon after work and powerful or more challenging flows taking place in the evening upon my ever faithful mat. More and more yoga entered my life. I started purchasing books with more in-depth explanations upon poses or histories. I buried my nose in books written by experts about their own accounts and stories. Soaking all these things up, I started to forget what was fueling me to pursue such a large plate of yoga.
I woke up one morning and the answer was as obvious as it could be. What was I doing with all my free time? How many countless hours had I dedicated to studying already? How often did I encourage family, friends, and even strangers to at least give yoga a try?
The first time I said out-loud that I wanted to be a Yoga Instructor, my heart skipped a beat. An electric shock shot down my spine and pooled deep in my toes. It was thrilling so I repeated myself despite running the risk of sounding like a lunatic. What did I care? There had never been something I wanted so tremendously except maybe peace of mind. Yoga had provided me with that and now it was the answer to what my next step was. Where I was taking my life and what path I would walk upon. Where did I start and how soon could I be doing what I love all day everyday?!
Endless hours of research and comparison of styles, studios, and education value took place soon after. I’ve meditated and dedicated many long days and nights into where I should invest myself in. The achievement of my instructor license is something I insist on doing, regardless of what it takes. I know if I continue with my new life-style, which I’m certain I will, I can face any challenge in life. Fred Devito said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” I couldn’t agree more based off of my personal experience that has brought me to this point in my life path.
This was my essay entry, albeit some cut from this post, for a scholarship for my instructor license. Any and all comments are highly encouraged and would be tremendously helpful. Thanks!