Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Yoga saved my life.
I’ve heard this phrase said easily a thousand times and, just to convince you that much further, it’s commonly followed by ‘it really did’! Well, I’m here to share with you, yet another, yoga saved my life story because... It truly did.
I first found yoga on day 6 of a 90 day fitness program. I was 22 and suffering from extreme bouts of depression and severe anxiety. I had recently had a baby and I knew I needed to get myself moving. I knew something had to change. One afternoon, I put my baby down for a nap, rolled out my pinky sticky mat, and pushed play on the dvd player. My heart dropped when I realized the class was 90 freaking minutes long, but my ego graciously whispered, “Girl, you got this! You’re a dancer, you know how to stretch, and you have the remote control.” Within the first 15 minutes I had my ass handed to me. Chaturanga (low plank pose) was my new nemesis and I found myself creating a new relationship with my living room floor. Ever grateful for the fast-forward button and the comfort of being in my home, I sort-of finished the class, and found myself inspired to try a ‘real class’. Maybe. At some point, in the distant future.
See, even though I was inspired to try a real class, I wasn’t actually comfortable doing so. I was nervous, I wobbled, and constantly fell in my practice. I sucked at yoga in my living room, so I figured I would probably double suck in a studio. What if I knocked someone over? I had the desire to attend a class, but I waited to do so. At that time, money was tight, so I used that as another excuse to not go.
About one year later, yoga showed up in my life again. I came across a contest hosted by a local yoga studio. The winner would receive a free pass to an upcoming yoga and chocolate workshop. This was right up my ally, I love free and I adore chocolate. I entered the contest and won! I loved every single thing about the workshop. The chocolate was divine, the practice was simple and slow. I felt amazing and I wanted more, but as a young mom, I didn’t have room in my budget to pay for weekly yoga classes, so I had an idea...
While I didn’t have extra money to give, I had time. I knew how to clean, so I wrote the owner of the yoga studio and asked if I could clean her space in exchange for yoga.
She graciously agreed and, from that moment on, my life was forever changed.
At this point in my life, my schedule was jam packed. In addition to raising my then two year old daughter, I walked a pack of 3-5 pit-bulls every day, I nannied for twin toddlers, and I taught weekly dance classes. To my already wild schedule, I added yoga three times a week. We met for practice at 6 AM, before the sun had even opened her eyes, and ended just after the sun rose.
That first week I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I could barely hold Downward Facing Dog and did more belly flops than low push ups. I slipped all over my mat and fell over more than once. I had never sweat so much in my entire life. In addition to feeling sore, I also felt pretty amazing, and, over time, my body began to feel light and open. Similar to my very first class, I wanted more.
Within the first month of my practice, yoga blew my mind and woke up my entire body. As a dancer, I had used my body most of my life or, at least, that’s what I thought. I was used to moving and stretching, but yoga brought something different to the table.
Yoga taught me how to breathe, how to move in a healthy way, and, most importantly, how to love and appreciate my body. Yoga taught me how to heal.
When I learned how to breathe while practicing yoga, I learned to be present on a much deeper level. By syncing my movement with my breath, I created a union powerful enough to generate immense focus, strength, and freedom from within. It was from this union that I learned to appreciate, celebrate, heal, and love my body. As a person who had struggled with mental health issues since I was a teen, healing was huge.
I attended my first yoga teacher training program within the first year of beginning my yoga practice and never looked back.
It’s been almost 10 years since I first pushed play on that DVD and I’m so glad I did.
If you have a desire to start a yoga practice, I encourage you to go for it.
Similar to learning a new language, the beginning of your practice may seem messy and you may feel lost, but trust me that is part of the process and, over time, it will get easier and easier. You will become more comfortable, but you have to be willing to do the work of showing up. Showing up is often the hardest part, but believe me it is so, so worth the effort.
Remember, every single person who has ever stepped onto a yoga mat has had a first day, a first class. Everyone has been a beginner. Everyone has felt lost and uncertain.
Let that be the courage you need to jumpstart your practice and inspiration for you to keep coming back. And, if you ever need, I’m here and would be more than happy to help you. Whether you are 21 or 71, let’s get started.
Published April 3, 2019