I took up yoga as a serious practice in college. Like so many people around me, I started my practice because I thought, “I’m going to yoga” sounded cool, and hoped it would suddenly make me lose weight. What I didn’t realize was that yoga is a practice that shifts thought patterns and behaviors both on and off the mat. It is a life practice that has both grounded and lifted me up in ways I never thought possible.
My first yoga class happened to be on Buddha’s Birthday. My teacher celebrated by doing sun salutations for the entire hour of class. I thought I was going to die, and couldn’t understand why people would submit themselves to that kind of torture.
For whatever reason, I kept going. I got better. I got stronger. I could do a full Chaturanga from my knees, then eventually moved up to my toes. I stopped dreading class, and started to actually feel powerful during class. I went as often as I could, and felt really into my body. At least while on my mat.
Though my on the mat presence was improving, there was a lack in my self-esteem and self-worth off the mat. I started to struggle with body image, and took up various forms of eating disorders. Eventually, I got to the point where I wouldn’t allow myself to eat unless I had just finished a workout or was about to go to the gym. I spent all my time out of class at the gym, and there was little I thought about other than what I would eat next or when the next time I could work out would be. It was a lonely and isolating time. It was too stressful to hang out with friends because it would mess with my eating and workout schedule. I was alone and miserable, and felt very stuck in life and in my body.
My yoga practice continued to carry me through.
One day on my mat, I had a life-changing realization: I was actually beautiful. Just the way I was. Not because how much or little I ate, but just because I was human and alive.
This thought came to me in practice a lot in the coming months. Time would briefly stand still, and I could smile to myself knowing that I was enough. It eventually created an off-the-mat shift where I stopped feeling the need to workout so much. I continued my yoga practice, and began to focus more on how I felt rather than how much or little I ate.
Food stopped becoming an enemy. I stopped turning down invitations to get dinner or dessert with friends.
I was totally and completely in love with the practice of yoga, and with life.
I soon signed up for a Yoga Teacher Training, and spent a month in Costa Rica deepening my practice, and continuing to heal myself. That’s why I wanted to teach, and that is why I continue my practice. Yoga has taught me I have more strength and beauty within me than I ever thought possible. It has allowed me to tap into the light I have, and share that light with those around me. It is no longer about whether or not I can do a handstand or how long I can hold crow. It is about tapping into that space of pure courage and light within me, then allowing others to tap into that space as well.
the beauty in me honors the beauty in you,