The beginning of my path, though I take ownership of my own steps, is one that might sound familiar.
I really “found” yoga (in the deepest, most honest sense) when I was 20. Very much like almost every girl at that age, I had a really fucked up concept of self-worth and an even worse body image.
In retrospect, I viewed myself in through other people’s eyes. I created an imaginary perception, the way that I thought people saw me…and I hated that girl.
Which is to say: I hated myself.
That summer, I rolled out my mat. I dedicated myself to a practice that I thought at the time was going to be purely physical. I wanted to lose weight and tone up, plain and simple. I think that’s a common motivation for people to come to practice.
The experience that I had instead is hard to describe—unless you’ve been there yourself.
Without even realizing it the girl that I thought I was, the girl I had built my whole life around being, had disappeared. I found myself that summer. I learned that you are who you decide to be. That other people’s opinions of you don’t matter.
That not everyone is going to like you—and it’s ok if they don’t.
In January of 2009, I lost my mom very suddenly. I was 21 years old. And in many ways I found myself back to square one. But this time, instead of seeing myself through the eyes of others…I had no concept of self at all. I was adrift.
I managed to make it through my last semester of college (barely). I packed my car and moved to Columbus, Ohio searching for a fresh start.
Once more, I found my way to my mat.
I could say that yoga healed me and changed my life. But in reality yoga gave me the tools to heal myself and change my own life. I regained my breath. I cleared my head. I cried through savasana. I found myself at peace soaked in sweat. I transformed the hurt and anger and sadness into productive emotions. I found the strength to look forward instead of down.
But that sense of internal peace took a lot of work. Who am I kidding? It stillL takes a lot of work. Every. Damn. Day.
Some days, some practices, it just isn’t there. I’m grateful for those moments, just as much as the times when it all comes together like a dream. There are going to be times when you feel helpless, or livid, or overwhelmed, or any of the millions of variations of shitty moods there happen to be. And sometimes you need to feel those things, really feel them as deeply as you can, so that you can move on from them.
Yoga has taught me countless lessons; the most influential, the one that keeps me coming back is the knowledge that I have choices and that nothing is permanent.
Wayne Dyer said, “How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” The same goes for life as a whole. Things are always evolving, and most of them are just plain out of your hands.
However, the thing that isn’t subject to the randomness of the universe is your attitude. You have the power to make the most (or least) of anything that comes your way.
Most of the people that knew me when I was that sad girl who felt defined and judged and victimized by things and people she had no control over have had some surprising reactions at my personal evolution.
Recently a childhood friend of made the comment, “Who would have ever thought you’d be this girl?”