I found yoga when I also found great pain.
It was so easy, floating through life by pushing aside uncomfortable feelings. The symptoms were surely there: the occasional angry outburst or overreaction, unexpected tears for the proverbial glass of spilled milk. But of course, I could not see them.
I was not truly seeing myself.
I would describe to a close friend how these occasional bursts of uncontrollable emotions terrified me. The voracity with which they attacked my heart and thrust their negative energy into my body, tensing muscles in my back and neck, wreaking havoc and leaving insecurity and vulnerability in their wake.
Inevitably, the pain becomes so strong it overwhelms. I would constantly seek the company of others, fearing to be alone with my thoughts. Of course that would never last. At some point, we are all alone.
Crashing to my knees, I found myself pulling out the old yoga mat I’d once endeared myself to in college.
I yearned for that momentary serenity I remembered following the end of a grueling hot yoga class. That moment of bliss, when I was no longer victim to my inner critic and the emotional turmoil that swirled constantly within.
On my mat, there was only now.
I had to let go of that which does not serve me, because it was slowly draining my soul from within.
On my mat, there was only me.
I learned to quiet the mind. In order to conquer my shadows, I had to snuggle up inside them. I had to open my mind and heart to the pain that I feared and accept the hurt I felt within. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I smiled. But I stopped running away.
On my mat, there was love.
I learned that there were things about myself I didn’t like. I realized that I am not perfect, that it is ok to be afraid.
To love passionately is to accept unconditionally that we are all here doing our best amidst the chaos. After all, everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
Natalie aims to live this life by following the fullest and most expressive path possible. Whether through musical composition, theatre, dance, yoga, or meditation, she has felt a lifelong connection to creative self-expression. She hopes to continue to celebrate every moment. A recovering perfectionist, she finds solace in candles and bath salts. One day she will leave her East Coast desk job and open a yoga studio in California.
Like elephant yoga on Facebook.
Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Kate Bartolotta