How Yoga Can Save Your Life.
When I signed up for the YogaHope facilitator training, I was under the illusion that I was going to spend thirty hours and five days of my life learning how to emotionally heal women through teaching yoga.
Emotional Healing through the Art of Yoga—I deluded myself.
What we did was so much more.
YogaHope, founded by Suzanne Jones (a regular EJ contributor), was created to facilitate access to yoga and meditation education specifically for women experiencing debilitating life transitions—those establishing independence from domestic violence, self-sufficiency from homelessness, recovery from drug addiction, or rehabilitation after mental illness.
Sue believes that in order to teach the program, you must first live the program.
So, there I was, on Day Three, crying hysterically in my small group session about how my anger really hides my grief that my company chose to support my attacker over me, grief that my friends believed his lies over my truth, and grief that in order to live, I had to give up the thing I loved most.
Sue believes that yoga save lives, and so do I. After my attack, a daily yoga practice/addiction saved mine. Only I did not know how or why until I met Sue.
The YogaHope philosophy heals trauma through recognizing your emotions, working through them on the mat, and learning to create emotional and mental space through a specialized intentional training.
If you get a chance to go through her trainings or watch them first hand at your facility, your life will be changed forever; but just in case you will not do so for one reason or another (no judgement, only love), here is a little of what I have learned. My hope to you is that some part of it resonates.
1. Let yourself feel.
Cry, laugh, scream, yell, frown, smile—just do it. As children, somewhere along the way, we are taught to behave. All this “appropriate” behavior has created some seriously dysfunctional adults. You were given tear ducts to release your joys and pains. You were given the gift of sound to express your soul through the power of your voice. You were given your body for a reason. There were no accidents in the formation of the human body. Use it.
2. Be okay with where you are at right now.
Are you angry? Cool—there is a lot of stuff out there to be angry about. Are you sad? Okay, there are some seriously depressing occurrences in the world we are living in. Are you afraid? Awesome. You have found the base of what you need to learn. Are you happy? Great! Ride that wave for as long as you can. Love yourself enough to accept where you are at right now. You do not punish yourself for a week for falling down after only ten seconds in crow pose—why would you punish yourself for anything else?
3. There are people full of good intentions.
There are people out there who will agree to sit in a room with thirty two other strangers, reach into the depths of their souls, pull up one of their most painful memories, and wave it like a gigantic lollipop. They will let their sh*t fly just to learn how to help other trauma survivors find a piece of their peace. There is a world of humble, loving souls who will hug you when you cry and hold your hand when you release your pain.
That is a YogaHope experience.
So, if you are out there looking for a little droplet of hope, my advice to you is: get to a yoga class.
More importantly, while you are there, make eye contact and say hello to someone in the class, because that person may be there looking for a little hope too.
Olga F’gold is a traveling vagabond goddess, currently trapped living a full-time job lifestyle in Boston. She keeps her soul smiling with her dedicated yoga practice, running away to the wilderness in her free time, and practicing gratitude. She loves finding things to climb, people to hug, and harnessing her inner domesticated side. If you like what you see, you can catch her meandering inspirational tidbits here.
This article was prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Soumyajeet Chattaraj.