When I was 14, I was at Kmart with my mother. I saw the Rodney Yee yoga collection on sale.
Oddly dressed, tall and scrawny, I stood there and insisted to my mother I had heard wonderful things about yoga from a girl at school and that this would be a wise purchase. “I promise I’ll use the tapes everyday!” I had said. She was reluctant but eventually allowed me to spend my babysitting money on the tapes.
Twenty whole dollars in 1994 took a lot of persuasion. Now 35, I still have those yoga videos and many more in my collection. I have taken yoga classes around the globe and continue to strive each day to gain more of an understanding of yoga.
Since my decision to take a course in yoga teacher training, I have been reflecting on my philosophies on the subject of yoga. Three common themes have been: how yoga has formed me into who I am today, how it has been a major source of healing and where I want to go from here.
It started out as exercise. I would press play on the VCR, Rodney Yee was always in some island location in those yoga videos and the modest little living room in my childhood home would transform. It was all so new and foreign yet, I grasped firmly onto the challenge found in each pose. I would pause the tape when I felt I needed more time to get into a pose and make it just right for my body.
After a short while, I realized how grateful I was for yoga and I would thank God each time I was in savasana. I was young so it took awhile to understand this connection because I had previously been taught that you pray to God in bed, you praise Him in church and you learn about God in youth group.
My time spent on my mat slowly transformed from being an at home workout to eventually showing me the spiritual connection I had been forming. Not only had I been finding ease in my body, peace in each pose but there was also compassion, something I hadn’t been able to describe before.
With every inhalation, I found gratitude for this life force in my heart and lungs and gratitude for the experience of trust. I began to trust myself and God because quite frankly, yoga is hard. I found strength from within that I hoped was there as I balanced on one foot with arms and leg stretched out behind me. I began letting the lessons I was learning to expand beyond my yoga mat and into my life.
If I wobbled or fell, it was ok. If I needed to take extra time to breathe, it was ok. This is how yoga has made me me.
After my son was born, I had gone through some traumatic experiences, my parents divorced, my mother moved out of state, my life had fallen out of balance and I didn’t know how to get it back.
I was still practicing yoga but I was distracted and overwhelmed with fear of raising my baby without help from my mom. I was so upset that things hadn’t turned out the way I thought they would.
My health slowly started to dwindle. Over 30 doctors had tried to figure out was causing arthritis in all my joints, a paralyzed colon, heart palpitations, debilitating fatigue, extreme depression, etc. It took a very long time for me to understand that no amount of doctors and diagnoses would be able to fix what was going on inside my body.
My conclusion after six years of zero progress, more physical pain than I could ever imagine was possible, is that only I have the answers to tap into my natural ability to heal the actual causes.
Where did I come to this conclusion?
On my yoga mat, crying, weeping, in downward facing dog because it hurt so bad to be in it, but that was all I could do it. I could stay in this pose if I just breathe and trust that if I do fall, the floor will catch me and if something hurts, send it love.
When my son is scared or hurt, I hug him, I give him love and tell him that it’s okay. I have told him before that God gives us love and courage. We can use those tools of love and courage whenever we need to. Just trust that they will always be there like the scotch tape, post-it notes and pencils in our kitchen drawer—keep the tools you need most often, closest to you.
Trust, love and breathe.
This is what yoga continues to teach me and, to me, this is more effective and powerful than anything that scientists can produce in a lab.
There are, indeed, some amazing supplements that can truly aid in the healing process, however, if we are taught how to properly care for ourselves from the very beginning, we may not need anything else.
That being said, I have come to the conclusion at this point in my life that it starts when we are young. When we properly educate children how to trust in themselves, how to diminish fear and simply give love to themselves and those around them, a person has a better chance of feeling happiness in every area of their life.
I am in yoga teacher training so that I may share my love for life and the things I have learned through yoga. It’s that simple.
So where does this love come from? For me, it comes from inside. It comes from asking God for just a little more strength in the midst of a yoga tri-pod, or a little direction from God when I’m lost driving in the city or I send prayers and ask for love when someone else needs positive thoughts sent their way. I ask for support, love, direction and patience from God all the time in these obvious areas of life.
Just recently I began to see that it’s okay and actually necessary to ask for guidance and love at all times. If we try to do it all ourselves, we become exhausted, unhealthy and filled with worry. Our bodies are miracle machines and should come with a manual. Fear in all forms makes stiff in our mind, stiff in our body and stiff in our spirit.
Love and trust can make us calm, keep us healthy in our mind and spirit, which then, of course, leads to a healthy body.
When people are healthy and experiencing happiness, they are kind and loving and able to be supportive of those around them.
Living a lifestyle centered around yoga has led me to physical and emotional healing. This is an experience I look forward to showing everyone who crosses my path how to achieve.
Yoga has been my instruction manual and has brought me closer to God, enriching my overall quality of life.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Thea Bee Photography