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April 2, 2015

Yoga Liberated Me from the Shame of Rape.

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Yoga liberated me, but not for the reasons you may think.

For life before yoga was lonely and sad. I struggled with post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. I was mentally ill and I knew it, but I hid it from the world.

I didn’t know how to explain myself. I felt stigmatized and lonely.

For years I was terrified of the word “rape” because I understood the pain and suffering that lived behind that word. I didn’t know how to share my trauma and grief with others.

After years of traditional talk therapy and meditation I felt numb and disconnected from myself. I felt I was sleeping through my life. It didn’t take the terror away, the nightmares or the fear that I knew I was a vulnerable target as a woman, as a survivor.

I understood the dangers of the world. From my point of view the world was a scary and unsafe place. I didn’t run at night, I didn’t allow myself to be alone with men I didn’t know. I knew that I needed to protect myself for there was no one I could trust. Sometimes not even myself.

That’s when the cutting and suicidal thoughts took over.

I felt uncomfortable in my body. I wanted the pain to just be taken away. I eventually developed an eating disorder as a way to control my post traumatic stress and trauma. I wanted an escape, a way to cope. My self esteem was non-existence and my sense of self was broken.

As a rape survivor, I lived outside my body. Going inside seemed too scary, I didn’t feel worthy to know who I really was. I felt lost, directionless, dirty and at times helpless. Suicidal thoughts kept me alive. They pushed me to discover myself deeper. To learn touch myself again. To love myself. To open my heart to the world, but most importantly myself.

Yoga liberated me from my fears of sexual assault and rape. It allowed me to be present in my body and feel strong and beautiful. No longer did I identify myself as a victim; I was a survivor who was healing and learning what it meant to be someone who felt proud, strong and worthy to be alive.

Yoga allowed me to discover my breath in which I was disconnected for all of my childhood. As I entered adulthood I wanted to explore and discover my body—not for anyone else, but myself. I was curious what it had to offer.

As I entered into my first yoga classes I remember going in terrified and coming out inspired. Each class I became more and more comfortable with my own body. I stayed present. No longer did I flash back. I let the teacher touch me as terrified as I was of touch. I felt safe. I felt alive. I felt worthy to be myself on my yoga mat.

Yoga taught me about who I really am. For years I thought I was undeserving of love, a healthy relationship, a man that didn’t see my body as a sexual object. I realized what hurt me the most was not my perpetrators, but my own mind. I created thoughts about myself that were toxic and suicidal. I know now that this was my mind and my body’s way of protecting itself, but it took years on my yoga mat to unravel the negative beliefs about myself and my body. My body wasn’t to blame or shame anymore.

For the first time I fell in love with the person I was. I understood that my past traumas were part of me, but I didn’t have to be overcome by them. I was stronger, wiser and beautiful. I felt I had reclaimed not only my physical body, but my dignity, my mind.

My yoga practice is a journey that will continue through my life. It keeps me grounded, keeps me inspired and allows me to grow into the person I am meant to be. Every time I am on my mat I feel love. I dare you to discover the person you really are.

Yoga liberated me, but not for the reasons you may think, and for that I am grateful.

 

Relephant:

How to Get in Touch with our Open Hearts: Healing Yoga Poses.
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Author: Ruth Krug

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own

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Ruth Krug