Yesterday I began my second yoga teacher training, a week intensive at Core Power Yoga, my home studio in Fort Collins. Seven years ago I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, but I was not in a place in my life where I was ready to teach, I was healing and struggling with many personal insecurities, so I abandoned my practice and never took the leap to stand in front of a class. Now, after much growth, many changes, and learning to dedicate myself to my own practice, I am ready to share. I am ready to open myself and give myself to others on and off the mat.
For the first day of class we had to answer “What Is Yoga to Me and Why Do I Practice Yoga” in a one-page double, spaced essay. Seven years ago I would have struggled to write one paragraph on why I practiced, this time I struggled with how to answer this in just one page as yoga has influenced my life in incredible and unmeasurable ways, in ways I am still grasping. Years spent on my mat and I am still at the beginning of my journey. I know these are questions that I will continue to ask myself as my practice evolves and grows because my relationship with yoga will be ever shifting, but below is the short essay I turned in for class, which explains what brought me to yoga, and why I practice currently.
What Is Yoga to Me And Why Do I Practice Yoga
I was slow to come to yoga as a dedicated practitioner. For years I found myself on and off my mat grasping for something I knew yoga could offer, but mentally and emotionally I often arrived with judgement, expectation, and self-criticism. My teens and early 20’s were a chaotic mess. I struggled with sever bulimia, and as my eating disorder took over my life, so did every other unhealthy habit I could get myself attached to. I binged drank, I smoked, I sabotaged relationships and surrounded myself in a web of lies, treating my body and soul with complete disregard. I rarely felt any connection between my mind, body, and soul, but it was the times on the mat I felt that maybe I could discover myself again and dig myself out of the wreckage I had created. However, like most things I wanted immediate results and I wanted to be the best and I wanted it to fix me. I would watch the clock and think about the million things I had “done wrong” or the million things I felt I needed to “do right”. I was stuck outside of my body and my mind was always in the past or the future. I was distracted by bad habits and my unhealthy lifestyle, which brought me to class weak, undernourished, and hungover. Over time, with much love and support I began to heal. I began to want change. I wanted to be happy. So I worked really hard, and I learned to forgive myself. I began to let go. But I also began to ground myself. It was about one year after my last eating disorder episode that I came back to my mat, and found my breath. The missing link. I began to feel presents, and began to feel connection. The feeling of my body, mind, and eventually my heart and soul connecting felt overwhelmingly beautiful. As easily as beginning to breathe I began to let go even more. I felt waves of gratitude crash over me in savasana. Gratefulness, stillness, and happiness all began to present themselves in my life off my mat as I continued to practice with more commitment. And with each day I realized more and more this was what I had been craving and fell in love with the work, the process, the breath. So yoga to me is a healer. It is a teacher. It is a joy bringer. It wasn’t what cured me, but it has been the catalyst for many beautiful changes in my life. It has helped restore my integrity and my relationship with myself and as a result with everyone, and everything, around me. I practice because it restores my whole health. I practice because I learn more each time I settle into my breath, and let go. I practice because yoga gives me courage. I practice because I want to choose love, and I want to be able to put more love out into the world. I practice because life changes every day, and I will never be finished learning, and on my mat I answer the questions that are forever evolving in my heart.