June 4, 2015

Yoga Saved my Life! (But Not Really.)

Eliana Chinea article photo
I thrust myself in the Yoga scene after several years as a (not so professional) party girl.

I drank almost everyday, partied five nights a week, and ended up working for a night club when I should have stuck with my day job.

After many black outs, negative balances in my bank statement and hangovers that lasted for two days, I decided it was time for a change.

I had a melt down in front of my yoga teacher at the time and confessed I was depressed and had been for a long time. I quit the party scene and did a 180 into the crazy world of yoga pants, kirtan parties, and ashram living. I was convinced that yoga would fix the need for attention, the need for validation, and most of all my fixation with depression. I was addicted to the high of temporary happiness and the deepest depressive lows that always followed.

So, I left my miserable party life and party friends and flew to California for a month long yoga training, and I lived happily ever after!

That is a fantasy I wish were true, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

That was two years ago, and I realize now that yoga is a wonderful bandaid for a broken heart and broken life. But bandaids can only do so much. I would love to tell you that yoga saved my life, and a few months ago I would have told you that.

The truth is, yoga has not saved my life—it was a life raft rather so that I could save myself.

Yoga has taught me so many things that I have used as tools to help heal my depression and anxiety, and I used to think that was what saved me. What I have realized in the last few months, though, is that I have merely used the teachings and wisdom of the masters to force myself out of sadness and heartbreak.

Often I would use them in force to banish the depression out of me. Mostly, though, I would feel temporary bliss after chanting, or a long yoga class, or the pranayama I didn’t want to do for 30 minutes. I would force myself out of bed into my car and in the studio, feeling immensely grateful as soon as I walked in the door. It seemed to me yoga was my cure, and I totally believed it for a long time.

In a way it is true, but not completely. One of the things I have realized is that spirit is powerful when it is woken up. Spirit can overcome disaster, it can overcome adversity, and most of all it can overcome the ego. Depression is such a strong voice in our head that even after years of practice and meditation I sometimes wake up not wanting to leave the house for hours. When I use yoga as a tool for awakening, spirit kicks in to overdrive and makes decisions I would not have done otherwise.

I believe that when we talk about healing we aren’t talking about an external source that heals us. It is an internal awakening that empowers our bodies and minds to do what our ego tells us we don’t deserve to be doing. When spirit is awakened we have no choice but to love ourselves, love our neighbors, and love our planet.

So no, yoga did not heal me.

I healed me, spirit healed me.

Yoga was the path to awakening the spirit I had numbed and shut out with alcohol, partying, and bad influences. Yoga was the bandaid I used to cover up the deepest wound in my life, and continues to be there. Spirit is my healer, awakened by the wisdom of the masters, the practice, and the devotion to my highest calling.

As a woman, I find I often give the credit to someone or something else, that no matter how greatly I have contributed to something praise is better off given away. We are sometimes even told to not be egotistical and take too much credit for something.

However, when it comes to our lives and our own salvation, who is it that gets out of bed when they don’t want to, or puts down the bottle when they are reaching the edge, or acts kindly to the person who has been a nightmare to them at work, or goes to yoga class instead of the party?

You are your own savior, your own guru, your own hero.

You have the power to save your own life. Live it with the greatest of humility and grace.



Author: Eliana Chinea

Editor: Emily Bartran 

Photo: Author’s Own

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