I spent my entire childhood not believing I was good enough for anything and full of shame.
From the age of 13 I have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders and at times, hopelessness. These things are a direct result of being sexually abused as a child. I have sought therapy many times during my adult life, and each time I have worked through different emotions relating to the abuse. I always hoped to be done working through these issues but seem to never be completely healed. They keep coming back.
Fast forward to the summer of 2011.
Stupidly, I decided to embark on a long time desire. Yoga teacher training. I say stupidly because that’s how it felt at the time. I had wanted to do this for such a long time but was too terrified to actually take the step. Some of the many toxic thoughts going through my head were:
you are not good enough, not by a long shot
you never stick to anything
you will fail
you will be judged
people with laugh at you
These are the thoughts that have gone through my head my entire life. Sometimes I am able to ignore them and dare to try something new, but many times I give up. On this particular occasion, I had the money hidden in a desk draw, secretly saved, specifically for the teacher training. So I mustered up the courage and drove to the studio, handing her the envelope full of money before I had time to chicken out. From the time I paid to the time the training started, I thought of many ways to back out. Some of them were actually true, and some were made up. I thought of so many excuses, but in the end, I didn’t back out. I showed up.
First weekend extensive: I am so nervous that I want to vomit. Seriously. As the weekend goes on, I relax a bit. I even start to enjoy myself a little.
Second weekend extensive: Man, I love this stuff…mostly. I get to know my teacher and fellow students better. They are wonderful. This is so much fun.
Third weekend extensive: I love yoga so much.
Don’t get me wrong, this is hard. It is so far out of my comfort zone that at times I think I’ll need a compass to get back, but at the same time I feel safe. That is the important thing: I feel safe. I still have all of the negative talk in my head, the self-doubt and self judgment, but I know, in this class, I am not being judged. We all have our stories, our pasts, our demons and vices, but from the strength (physical, emotional, spiritual and mental) I get from my yoga practice and the wonderful support from my teacher and fellow students, I can handle my past and all that it brings. I can not only handle it, I can overcome it. I am not broken, and I am not shattered. I am just a little wounded at times, and yoga is helping me to heal mind, body and spirit in a happy and healthy way.
I have a way to go yet, and I know there are going to be things I have to do that I don’t like, things that push me even further out of that safe place. During this experience, I am being forced to look at myself in ways I have never before considered. I am seeing myself differently with tenderness and compassion. I will finish this training, and I will share this beautiful gift of yoga with others.
Some people say that yoga can wreck your body, and this may or may not be true, but it can surely save your spirit.
Tammy Foley is currently studying to be a yoga teacher and holistic nutritional consultant. She has a daily meditation practice that is her saving grace. Tammy is the author of the blog AVeganGoddess.com and has a vegan cookbook in the works. Besides her family, veganism, nutrition and yoga are her biggest passions. She lives in southern Maine with her husband of 26 years, three grown sons and her much loved boxer, Tallulah.
This article was prepared by Sheri McCord.