In college I borrowed my roommates “Yoga for Beginners” DVD. I laid on the floor of our dorm room with my legs up the wall thinking ‘this is pointless’. I had heard that yoga was good for you but this was not for me. I liked high-intensity workouts and this seemed like a boring, gentle stretch. A few months later my good friend said she had the best workout at a hot yoga class (think yoga in a sauna) she said she had never sweat so much in her life and she felt amazing. I was intrigued until she followed it up with the disclaimer people were farting throughout class. No thanks.
Fast forward to a few years later and I am in the midst of my marriage falling apart. My husband was distant and unresponsive. Most times I didn’t know where he was, who he was with or what he was doing. The little time we were spending together I was perpetually reminded of just how alone I really was. I was lonely and broken and fighting to hold it together. I saw a Groupon for a hot yoga studio and thought ‘why not’?
It was a small, one room studio in the heart of Virginia Beach with stained glass windows, wood floors and mirrors along the front of the room. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, thankfully I had the sense to set up my mat in the back row. Before class started I sat on my mat, intimidated by those in the room around me who had brought their own, looked insanely fit and seemed completely confident about what they were doing. But as soon as class started and the heat rose, I lost myself in the flow. Struggling to breathe through my nose, following along to these new movements and postures as best I could. Throughout class in difficult poses she reminded us that ‘nothing is permanent, everything is temporary’ and those words struck me to my core. For me it wasn’t about the pose, it was about my life.
When class was ending and we were all laying on our mats in savasana (the final resting
pose) the room was silent, music was playing softly and for the first time in a long time tears began streaming down my face. It was like the practice unleashed a dam within me of grief and pain and despair and I laid shaking on my mat trying to hold it together thinking ‘wtf is going on’. While I was so consumed with holding my life together on the outside, yoga helped me unleash everything on the inside. It was the first time in a long time I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt proud of myself and my body. I felt self-worth. Something that was deeply lacking in my life. It was the beginning of falling in love with yoga and I let it carry me. It carried me through the weeks and months that followed as my life continued to fall apart and I descended deeper into darkness. It carried me as I endured abuse. It carried me as I watched everything unravel around me. It carried me as I had to leave my life behind in Virginia and start again in California. It carried me through my divorce and all the way to teacher training at the Soul of Yoga in San Diego where I dove headfirst and the universe paved the way before me.
It’s interesting as I was raised Christian, I attended church regularly. I went to a private Christian college and was required to attend chapel multiple times a week. Even in Virginia I had a group of Christian friends who invited me to church with them while everything was falling apart. They were there for me through the process, but every time I went to church I felt numb. I was tired of asking God why and being angry and people telling me that God had a plan and I needed to trust him. The truth was I found more comfort and solace in the yoga studio than I ever did in Church. I found more strength and empowerment through my practice than I ever did sitting through a service. Even now, for me going to yoga feels like going to my spiritual place. It’s a spiritual practice, a way to honor our bodies and connect with our higher selves.
I feel in many ways that stumbling into that studio all those years ago saved my life. It gave me the faith that I needed to trust in myself, the self-worth to recognize I was not being treated how I deserved and finally, the courage to leave – one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
Ever since this journey has opened up the most beautiful doors. I found healing and forgiveness in the practice. I found inspiration and now have the privilege of teaching and sharing the gift I received with others. I found Chad, my best friend and twin flame. Most importantly, I found myself again and am reminded of that beautiful journey every time I step on the mat.