As some of you know, I began yoga in college. On and off since then I have had a steady practice. What you may not know is why I chose yoga and why I connect with so many of its teachings. After my first college yoga class, I felt more relaxed. I felt calm. I felt like I had tapped into another version of myself and wanted to delve deeper into learning about why and how I had that experience.
Trust me, yoga didn’t transform me into a zen goddess….immediately, anyway :). With anything else, yoga is a practice. Some people practice drawing, running, playing an instrument. I take time to fit in yoga. What really pushed me into trying yoga as a form of relaxation was a series of traumatic experiences that changed my life.
In 2011, I was coming home from a hockey game on a busy highway. A car merged from the from right lane to the far left lane, across 4 lanes of traffic and slammed on the brakes. A 12 car pile-up ensued because of it. I was car number 6; hit twice in the rear while I was completed stopped by 2 cars going 60+ mph. The firemen that pulled me out of the car wouldn’t let me look at the damage to my car, just told me that I was safe now. After I was released from the hospital, I was introduced to anxiety.
In 2012, I ended a long-term, committed relationship and found myself at rock bottom. I had lost myself and who I thought I was. I hadn’t really ever been alone with myself. The first couple months trying to get back to feeling like myself was daunting. Enter: depression. My anxiety got the best of me. I found that I couldn’t get back into the same hobbies that gave me pleasure years ago. With a lot of self-healing and shifting my focus inward, I started realizing what I needed to change to put myself on a healthier, stable path. I was what mattered most. Learning to love myself again was the most difficult, yet rewarding battle that I’ve ever endured.
Three years later, my life took another downward spiral. In 2015 and 2016 my close family and friends of my family were plagued with illness. In March 2015, my life changed yet again. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment. Little did I know that she would never leave the hospital to come back home. I was with her until she passed on and I cherish the last moments I had with her. For 3 days, I never left her side. Losing a loved one is never easy. Helplessly standing by your loved one’s side as she is taken away from you is gut-wrenching. Welcome back, anxiety & depression. This time, it felt like it sucked the life out of me. I felt completely numb and I sank uncontrollably deeper into misery.
Nine months later, January 2016. I unexpectedly lost my first rescue animal, Kira. Kira was by my side since I brought her home in 2011. She was with me through the end of my relationship, moving houses 3 times, my absolute worst moments, and the death of my grandmother. Kira was my rock; the most stable, loving thing that was in my life at the time. When Kira’s time came to cross the rainbow bridge, I was at home getting ready for work. As I went to walk out the door, I found her lifeless in the living room. She had no signs of illness, no health issues. She was riped from my world and there was no way I could have helped prevent this tragic moment. I still hurt thinking about how she helped me through my toughest times and there was no way for me to help her when she needed me the most. I felt as though I had lost a child.
As this point in 2016, I had already been doing yoga consistently for close to a year. My yoga practice taught me that like a lotus flower, I could once again bloom out of the mud. I may struggle, I may feel discouraged at times, but I know a tough day does not mean a terrible life. Through yoga, I began being grateful for my struggles. How else was I expected to grow and learn? Working towards my goals meant that eventually I would succeed – both on and off my mat. For example, my goal is to master Bakasana – crow pose- but I am not there yet. I condition myself so that one day, full expression Bakasana will be in my daily practice. Being mindful on my mat, focusing on listening to my body, and being completely present had influenced my personal life before I knew it. I began being OK with there I was in my life, even with the struggles. I stopped judging myself. Instead of questioning why I wasn’t where I thought I’d be at this point of my life, I started saying that I was in this spot for a reason. Would I become stagnant in this spot in life forever? No. I strive for better. I set intentions for myself and believe I can grasp any goal I have, even if it takes twice the time I thought it would.
I am present, mindful, patient, and consistent. My next commitment is to control my anxiety and depression without needing medication. Like yoga, this goal is a practice and a process. I will succeed when the time is right. When that day arrives, I will be grateful. For me, yoga is life. It is how I work, on and off my mat.
Yoga truly has changed and saved me.