Like the rest of the human population, I have experienced challenges and roadblocks. I did not want to feel the pain or make any excuses in my life. I still don’t. I don’t like excuses and expect that I will show up in everything I do and not ask for help because I am independent and strong. So I motored through my teens and twenties, all systems go. I was happy for the most part. It was just little seeds of sadness in my heart that I did not want to acknowledge or deal with because I was too busy working, chasing my career, drinking, partying, exploring the world, exploring relationships, the dating world, screwing up and doing it all over again the following weekend numbing my emotions….feelings be damned.
Until of course, one day I woke up as a physically healthy 30 year old woman, but mentally unwell with a body that had a mind of its own and didn’t want to move and get to work. That was the beginning of the end. I relocated from East Coast Canada to Melbourne and bounced between Port Moresby and Brisbane. I found my feet in Brisbane and started over again as a 31 year old. Yoga had been part of my life in my twenties, but it was when I hit rock bottom, that I started to land on the mat regularly….and so began my journey to where I am today.
My brother asked me “Why are you drawn to yoga?”.
“I don’t know…it just feels good,” I said.
All I knew was that when I landed on the mat, moving and breathing did something to me and created space in my body and brain. Later I realised my teachers taught me how to breathe again. I literally didn’t know how to breathe and was having trouble inhaling. My breath was short and I thought it was asthma. It was only after yoga teacher training that my senior teachers explained about the fight or flight system (sympathetic system) where you are on the go frequently vs the rest and digest system (parasympathetic system). Practicing yoga, meditation and yin yoga activates the parasympathetic system.
My body, mind and soul seemed to crave the calm after chaos and so started this journey seeking information, learning and practicing yoga. My fast paced lifestyle, living in fight or flight mode was clearly not working for me. I was sick, anxious and depressed. A regular practice has supported me to understand my mind, feelings and emotions and be OK with not being OK. To embrace imperfection. To be OK with asking for help and be OK with taking rest and nourishing my body and mind. To be OK with using my voice again and OK with looking the world in the face rather than hide my eyes away.
This approach has supported me in recent years. A regular yoga practice, gym, meditation, prayer, volunteering, connection has helped. Doctors, counsellors, nutritionists, life coaches, yoga teachers, spiritual leaders, Church has guided me back to here. Taking time for myself and adopting self-care habits and hacks has enabled me to show up fully at work, in conversations with friends, studying, connecting with my family, volunteering in my community, teaching and sharing yoga. I have a healthier approach and balance to life. I am not a monk by any stretch! But, for your average girl plugging along, I am happy and so grateful for my health today and people who support me. The seeds of sadness have disappeared. This is why I love this practice so much.
Yoga is not about random poses or stretches. The practice has much power and potential to place your body in unfamiliar poses, teach you how to breathe calmly in these poses, show you how strong you are and that you can handle challenges on and OFF the mat one breath at a time. That’s why yoga has worked for me and why I am drawn to it.
And for anyone who may be experiencing a personal challenge, I encourage you to embrace where you are and be OK with imperfection. I also want to plant the idea about incorporating breathing exercises into your day and a home yoga practice. The gifts of yoga are there, waiting to be unlocked to support you daily as it has supported me.