As previously featured on The Yoga Diaries.
It was with every ounce of energy that I could muster from the deep recesses of my soul, that I dragged myself into my neighborhood yoga studio.
I hadn’t set foot on a yoga mat in years, and as I was still relatively new to Los Angeles, I didn’t know a soul at this yoga studio. But despite that, something compelled me to enter the studio that day. That day was the first day of the rest of my life…
It was February of 2008 and I was living through the deepest, most paralyzing depression of my life. It was not by any accident that I had found myself suddenly living in Los Angeles, after having spent my entire life living on the East Coast. All of my life I had dreamed of moving to the West Coast, but at this particular time in my life, there was a love in Los Angeles…a love for which I needed to fight…and fight I did, with every breath in my body.
Despite my passion and my intense soul-connected, light-infused love for this man, my intention to fight for him was not well-received. Instead of running into my arms, he chose “the other woman.” He outright rejected me, callously cut me out of his life, tossed me to the curb like a piece of garbage, and treated me like a leper. In doing so, the best friend I’d ever known walked right out of my life and left a gaping hole in my heart and rendered my soul completely shattered and broken. To add insult to injury, I was jobless, largely friendless and virtually alone in the vast, lonely sea of Los Angeles. This was my “dark night of the soul.”
It was a Herculean effort to even get out of bed in the morning, and many days I didn’t even bother. So what compelled me to walk into the yoga studio that particular day in February?
One word: Desperation.
Deep inside there must have been a part of me that was not willing to give up, despite how I felt on the surface. Somehow, as if being guided, I knew I needed to go to the yoga studio. Once on the mat, I dragged myself through the poses, deep in pain and on the verge of tears with every move. I wondered if other people around me were living through similar things. Surely I couldn’t be the only one who was living through darkness. Everyone looked so happy, so at peace. But I was drowning in sorrow.
Although I suffered greatly through that first class, there was in some small way a brief respite from the emotional pain when I was forced to focus on the physical challenge at hand…even if only for a second. That brief second of relief in an otherwise seething caldron of pain and anguish was what kept me coming back. And back I came to my yoga mat, again and again.
Within those first six months of my dedicated yoga practice, something very tangible began to happen. I had always been an intuitive person, but my yoga practice seemed to be cracking me open on a whole other level: suddenly I was having vivid psychic dreams, I had several visions that came to fruition, I had profound insights and feelings of “knowing,” and then there was the most profound experience of all, my out of body experience.
They say there are pivotal moments in life, life-altering experiences that change everything. My out of body experience was one of those moments. In an instant, I knew that I was connected to something greater, something so much larger than myself and my minor worldly problems. And I largely credit my yoga practice with allowing my soul to open to the point where it could have that mind-blowing experience.
With a renewed sense of hope and connectedness, I came back to the mat with fervor. And I dove even more deeply. I quickly learned to harness the power of the breath and meditation, and slowly but surely my poses were no longer merely an act of physical exercise. With each yoga pose, with each breath I took, I knew I was aligning my spirit with the divine consciousness, I knew I was connecting more deeply with my true self, my higher self, and with that which connects us to all other beings.
I was very fortunate to have found (seemingly “by accident”) a style of Hatha yoga that was largely focused on spiritual alignment and the opening of the heart. It was as if the Universe knew exactly what balm my wounded soul needed to heal, and this yoga practice was it.
And not only was it focused on heart-opening, but its Tantric philosophy was focused on embracing all sides of life, the light and the dark. The premise of the non-dual Tantric philosophy is that we are not separate from the Divine, but rather are one with it, and therefore any experience we should face, no matter how difficult and painful, is a divine experience to be embraced as an opportunity for growth and learning. It seemed that at this darkest moment in my life, this was exactly what I needed to hear… and what I needed to heal.
Fast forward to the present day…. This past February I passed the four-year mark with my dedicated Tantric-Hatha yoga practice. To say that my yoga practice has changed my life would be an understatement. Any of my friends can attest to this fact, having witnessed my incredible journey. I am now living more happily, more fully than I have ever lived in my life. And I have fully embodied my spirit.
There is a famous Rumi quote that I refer to often:
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
My profound heartache did crack me wide open, and once cracked open, my yoga practice allowed the light to flood in. The yoga allowed me to dive even more deeply into my soul, to touch the heights of elevated consciousness and to taste the bliss that we are meant to enjoy as spiritual beings living this physical life.
Not only did my yoga practice allow me to awaken to my true spiritual nature, but it also allowed me to align with my true purpose on this Earth, to step into the person that I was meant to be, living the mission that I was destined to live. As if completely by accident that I should have found a yogic path based on the life-affirming Tantric philosophy which now I hold so dear, I am now a motivational writer dedicated to the power of positivity, dedicated to helping people to always see the light in the darkness, dedicated to embracing life…in all of its forms.
This is the power of yoga.