In honor of International Yoga Day, Yoga Journal launched a campaign calling for stories from the yoga community of how #yogasavedme. So many inspiring stories of courageous souls who shared overcoming depression, disorders, body image issues, grief…the list goes on. As soon as I saw the post and story after story of strength, healing, vulnerability – I felt a deep resonance. Knowing that in my journey to yoga, I was not alone.
When I tell my yoga class that yoga saved my life I’m not being melodramatic and unless you have touched the depths of darkness, it is hard to comprehend. Yoga found me in my darkness and through rock bottom I found my own light. It is a gift that carries me still and holding space for others as a teacher now is the most beautiful blessing.
It was the spring of 2015 when I discovered yoga. I was living in Virginia Beach with my husband. He had recently returned from a six month deployment where our marriage began falling apart as I discovered he was having an affair. Not just cheating on me….but fully in love with someone else – I was crushed, devastated, broken. I felt not only did our marriage hold no value but neither did I. I was rejected, brought low, I felt as if I were not enough, my self esteem was shattered – all confidence and power I believed I had was lost. I slipped into depression. I felt so alone. It was in the midst of this darkness that I found yoga.
It was a small, one room, heated studio and I slipped into the back row. I followed along as best I could, fumbling my way through, sweating profusely and feeling silly in tree pose. But then, at the end of class, a strange thing happened. I laid on my mat in savasana, the final resting pose and tears began pouring down my face. I couldn’t stop them. A well of grief and sadness began to flow out of me, unleashed by moving and feeling into my body at a time when I was so numb.
I returned to class. Then again. And again. Again. I began to fall in love with the strength I began to feel in my skin again, in my body. I learned to appreciate my balance, my breath…at a time where the world loomed so large and dark around me – yoga became a sacred space, just for me. I found my home on my mat as I began to understand I was my own source of strength. I would need it.
My world continued to crash. My husband was in a helicopter accident and was one of the few surviving crew members. I never left his side. We put our relationship on hold as I became his nurse. For months I watched helplessly as he sank into his own darkness, guilt and shame , he began to drink and abuse his pain medication, he began to get angry. I saw a deep rage take over his life. I couldn’t recognize the man I married anymore and we decided to take time apart. But then, in a single night everything came undone. I became the brunt of his anger, he threatened suicide and I had to talk him down, only to find out he was having another affair with one of the widows from the recent crash. I was done. I couldn’t take anymore. It felt like life or death and I had to save myself.
The weeks that followed were dark and painful. Through it all, getting on my mat was the only thing that brought relief. It was the only place I could get out of my head and just be. Yoga taught me my own strength. Yoga ushered in self-love when I needed it the most. Yoga carried me back to California, to teacher training, to my spiritual awakening, to having the honor and privilege of now creating that space for others.
I still cry in Savasana but now my tears of sorrow have been replaced with tears of gratitude. Gratitude for my life. For my tribe. For my body. For my journey. And especially for my breaking.
So when I say yoga saved my life I’m not being melodramatic and unless you have touched the depths of darkness, it is hard to comprehend. But #yogasavedme and I honor those who share a similar journey of finding their yoga mat.
From my soul to yours – namaste.