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November 3, 2013

How Yoga Saved My Life & Marriage. ~ Janel Harper

I used to roll my eyes when someone would tell me about their challenging yoga class.

I would scoff in my mind, thinking “yeah, try Insanity,” and then tell me what is challenging. I took yoga classes or did the DVDs just to balance out the workouts that I was putting my body through. But only because I needed to stretch and recovery, or because someone told me to do it.

I was missing the point; I was going through the motions, counting down the minutes until I could go back to heavy lifting and Heisman’s.

I used to think that real, crazy, sweat infusing workouts were the only way to go.

Anything else was not worth my time. I would get mad, hit it hard for 65 minutes with sweat dripping from my body like water from a hose.  Then go at the weights and fatigue myself to the point of finally reaching that “high” where I had the satisfaction of not thinking about life for a minute.

It was like all my issues/problems were driving my rage, motivation to keep pushing through. They say exercise is a good habit to have; I say it is a better drug. Exercise is the best medicine in the world, especially if it is all you feel like you have control over.

In giving some background 411, I dealt with an eating disorder, gave birth to a human being, gained weight, lost it, dealt with depression, abuse and neglect.

You name it, I powered through it. Somehow believing I was still superwoman enough that I could get through one of the most horrible things a parent could ever deal with—finding out a family member sexually abused their child. When it became aware to us the disturbing things that happened to my child, then I hit the exercise harder than ever before. It was an escape for me. One that never failed me.

The truth behind yoga was that I had to be still, quiet my mind and face to whatever dark demons were lurking there.

In order to quiet your mind, you must first confront your thoughts, and then control them. And I just was not feeling that during Downward Dog.

And then three months ago, I stumbled upon a series of challenging yoga sequences and found my love for the Scorpion pose. I became obsessed.  I had to learn to hold that pose.

I needed it to prove to myself I could make my body do whatever I wanted it to do. It was like a switch turned on. I was hitting the mat everyday, Downward Dog was no longer boring it was just the warm up to what was the coming.

Warrior pose was like an anchor of strength, my posture was getting better, my focus in control. Eye on the ultimate goal. Every day I was pushing myself further, beyond the limits of the Camel pose, beyond the Pigeon pose.

A whole new world was opening up, and then I realized without thinking I was confronting those fears: the rage, anger and hurt.

I was releasing a little of it out in every exhale, gaining more control of my mind with every inhale.

My mantra was Namaste Mother f$cker. Suddenly everywhere I was I had to hold a pose, hiking, walking or shopping; it did not matter because I had to experience the stillness around me.

Smell a rose, even in the grocery store. Stopping for a whiff before checking out. And it is not just the being in tune with my body that has increased, but also the ability to control my emotions.

Things that used to cause me to spiral into utter despair or dramatic crusades are now held with pause.

My skin has gotten thicker; my mind more focused on healing, strength and love. I shake off negativity with more ease.

Scorpion pose saved my life and the trickle down effects have now helped my marriage.

The resentment from the abuse of our child was almost too much to bear at times, and the rage came out like knives towards my husband.

Utilizing yoga as a means to engage my mind, heart and body has helped me realize where these emotions are coming from.

Better yet to control them. Even more, let’s just say practicing with my child has helped our bond grow stronger as well. Children need pause, stillness and yoga just as much as we do. Next time you hit the mat, invite your child along.

 

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 Assistant Ed: Jes Wright/Ed: Sara Crolick

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