Yoga helped save me

Yoga helped save me in my darkest hours.  It was right after d-day, the day I found out my husband was having an affair, that I reventured into a yoga class.  The teacher was a spiritual young man, not much more than 20, but calmness exuded from his being.  I found a moment’s peace in his class. 

He taught once a week at my gym.  That wasn’t enough for me, so I started following him and taking his classes at another studio.  And then I needed more. 

I joined a true yoga studio, Yoga Shala in Calgary.  This place came to me as so many things do, as though I was guided to it.  I randomly heard the name Yoga Shala once, and thought nothing of it.  And then a day or so later, I heard it again.  When I heard it for the 3rd time, I knew it was something I had to check out.  I did, and it was here where I began to dive more deeply into yoga. 

I loved the quiet, and found that I could get into the flow.  I would often cry through class, and continued to for a couple of years, often sobbing uncontrollably.  I would just feel myself open up and let out some of what I was feeling.  The pain, sadness, hurt, anger, would all come tumbling out of me on my yoga mat.  At first I was embarrassed, but felt so loved and comfortable in the yoga environment, that I learned to just let the feelings come out when they needed to be let go. 

When I moved back to Columbus, one of the first things I did was find a yoga studio.  Yoga on High has truly been my place of grounding, my place of peace, my community and a huge piece of my healing journey.  The love and support I get there daily keeps me going.  I am pushed out of my comfort zone, stretched to the limit, challenged when I need it, and nurtured by the teachers and members.  Daily I find how yoga has saved me through all of these crazy challenges brought on by life. 

My yoga journey started a long time before this.  I just took a while to catch up to it. 

After my freshman year of college, I got a job working at the Light of the Yoga Society.  It was a restaurant in the Coventry area of Cleveland, Ohio.  This was back in the 70’s, and this was the counter-culture, hippie area of town.  The restaurant was vegetarian, and and had the best home-made ice cream.  Not sure what lead me to this place.  I was a server there.  There has always been something about yoga and a bohemian lifestyle that appealed to me.  Of course, I chose not to listen to that for about 35 years.  Do I see the connection???

This restaurant was an offshoot of the Light of Yoga Society.  The Society was founded in Cleveland in 1968 by Alice Christensen, and based on yoga and eastern philosophies.  I remember her coming into the restaurant.  I wasn’t a follower of hers, or a yoga practitioner at the time.  But she was the guru for many people in the restaurant, and seemed to have a glow around her.  I should have been more intrigued, but was too into trying to see my boyfriend, who would become my husband, and then ex-husband.

I went back to Ohio State, and signed up for a yoga class.  At the time, I was partying a lot, and between school work and my boyfriend, I couldn’t wait to get to savasana, and most often fell asleep.  I enjoyed it, but like so many other things, I didn’t listen to what called to my heart, put it on the back burner, and just plunged forward into living life, without paying any attention to the callings of my soul.  It took my ex’s infidelity to get me back to yoga.

Yoga has become a place where I notice things showing up in my life and places I am stuck.  I find where I am strong, and where I need to give myself some compassion.  My yoga mat has become a metaphor for my life. 

Just today, I realized that I get stronger little bit by little bit.  I can now do things in my yoga practice that I never thought imaginable.  There are poses that I just truly believed were for other bodies, but not mine.  Remember, I am 58.  In the past, I have tried to do headstands  (Sirsasana) and full wheel backbends (Urdhva Dhanaurasana) and failed every time.  I tried to force my way into these poses, and just collapsed in a messy pile. 

Yesterday in my Mysore yoga practice, I realized I am now easily and gracefully doing things I previously thought totally impossible for me.  And I mean totally impossible.  And ever since, I have been exploring what that means off the mat. 

Mysore is an individually led form of Ashtanga yoga.  The same series of poses is practiced every day, in the same order.  I originally thought doing the same thing, day in and day out, would be boring and tedious.  However it has been exactly the opposite.  It gives me the opportunity to just be, to just flow.  I don’t have to think to much or pay attention to what may be coming next.  It also has given me the chance to see how my body responds to the same movements every day, and to witness my progress over time. 

When I first started this practice, one of my instructors, Correna, came up to me trying to throw myself into a headstand, and told me not to worry, I would get there.  I thought to myself no freakin’ way.  But she is a true headstand whisperer, and I do have a drive and determination, and listen to constructive criticism.  And slowly, very slowly, inch by inch, I worked at each little piece, before adding the next one.  And 7 months later, I could easily get up.  And within 8 months, I could hang out on my head, with my legs straight above me, for quite a while. 

So what I see is that when things look difficult, maybe even impossible, I get the help I need, and keep working at it.  And then slowly, over time, I find myself doing it.  Its the story of my life since d-day.  I never thought I could live on my own, have a life I love, be able to do the things I want to do.  But little by little, I am doing it.  I am walking into the life that looked so impossible 4 years ago.

It is my true hope and wish for everyone that you can find your thing, your something that you enjoy but have to work at, to find that you can do the impossible.  We may not do it beautifully or to expert standards, we are trying.  Keep pushing forward for the life you want. 

“Take small steps every day and one day you will get there.”  Unknown

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