I know I talk about how much yoga means to me in my life, but maybe never explained why or how it changed my life. At the time I came to yoga, I was at a very low point in my life. I had left a very abusive and toxic relationship. I had no real family in my life, but I had great friends; my chosen sisters. I had no real life goals, except for teaching elementary special education and finishing my credential and master's program. Other than that, I was kind of lost and on my own. Yoga gave me a path and a solution to get out of my problems. For those of you that have known me since my early 20s, or maybe even before that, you may not have known how broken I was on the inside. I may have put up a good exterior with a happy face and an extroverted personality that turned on with alcohol, but I was a sad, angry little girl inside (still am to a certain extent, working on it). Yoga helped me find a path for my life. I don't follow a religion, per se, although I was raised and baptized in the Catholic church, and attended Catholic school for five years, but I don't subscribe to that religion any longer. I believe in yogic ways of living and probably lean more Buddhist than anything. I have chosen to live a yogic life, and if that isn't like dedicating yourself to a religion, then I don't know what is. Yoga isn't just something I do with my body, it's how I live. It's how I choose to participate in the world around me and how I choose to perceive the world. So when I say, I have found my heaven on Earth, it's really because of yoga and how I choose to live my life. Don't get me wrong, I had fun in my 20s, but I was headed in the wrong direction. I was dating the wrong kinds of guys. I didn't love myself and I definitely didn't respect or value myself. And yoga helped me to learn how to love myself, respect myself and accept myself. I made a lot of wrong choices because I didn't respect myself. And because of yoga, I will never not respect myself. I have a different relationship with myself now. A relationship that I am very happy about because I take great care of myself; mind, body, and spirit. And that, is what yoga has taught me; that I deserve all the good stuff. It gave me tools to grow into the woman I am today.
Another way in which yoga has changed my life is the body awareness and emotional regulation. Yoga has allowed me to become more in tune, more aware of my triggers, how I respond to conflict, and how to sooth my nervous system when I get overwhelmed (therapy helped too!) I had a very disregulated nervous system due to my childhood traumas. I spent so many years out of my body because I hated her and I thought she was disgusting and I rejected her. Yoga has allowed me to see the beauty in my body at all ages and stages. And what a privilege it is to be able to move my body in the way that it does. And I want to continue to have this healthy body. I love her and want to take care of her. With every year that I practice, 15 years now, I always find more to learn, more to know, more to study. I will never know everything about yoga. There is just far too much. And I'm not even talking about the physical postures that everybody knows. I'm talking about the deeper layers of philosophy and how challenging it can be to live in a yogic way with the world the way it is today. But that's what the yoga philosophy is there for; to support us on this path. For me, turning to the roots of yoga like the Yoga Sutras or Bhagavad Gita, is much like opening the Bible and finding an appropriate scripture for your situation. It gives me some insight on life and how to be in this world.
Ultimately, yoga has allowed me to love myself. To love others without expectations. To accept myself and others flaws and all. And most importantly, compassion to myself and others. From yoga, I've learned that in loving myself, I can love others. And that in allowing without force, things will come and go. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. There is dark and light in all of us. And balance is key. Haha. A little yoga joke to end.
Love Your "Forever Student" Yoga Teacher,