It really did. The day I fell in a deep love with yoga was the day my romantic relationship started to deteriorate.
Now let me start off by saying this is not a bad thing. I mean, it felt bad at the time, but after all said and done, it felt like a miracle.
Yoga ruined my relationship, but it also saved my life. It helped me to free myself from guilt and fear.
I’ll start at the beginning of my love affair.
Yoga had been in my life for some time before this, but we were more like acquaintances than lovers. I was a party girl (okay, I admit this side of me is still a little bit alive.) I enjoyed drinking, but not like how most people drink. I enjoyed drinking to the point where I would lose all control. Enjoy is probably not the right word, though, because I always woke up sad and disappointed in myself.
So one day I just stopped. At this point, I had had enough embarrassing drunken moments to fill an entire season of The Jersey Shore. I knew that something was wrong. I knew that this was not normal or healthy. I needed to at least prove to myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic and I could survive and even love my life without it. And what a headf*ck that was.
Not drinking was easy. I just stayed home or would go out and be the designated driver for my friends and boyfriend. After some time, I started to become confused. I regularly questioned my identity as a party girl and I didn’t know how to be anything else. I didn’t even know my true self because I had suppressed her for so long.
I needed help. I needed something and I didn’t know what. I knew it wasn’t drugs or alcohol. As much as I wanted to turn in that direction, I knew it would not make me feel any better. Then one day I found it.
Bored to tears at work, I was scrolling through Instagram. I was just clicking through hashtags and exploring when I came across the most stunning photo. It was of Laura Kasperzak, known to Instagram as @laurasykora. Damn, her photos were beautiful. I felt inspired to try yoga again. And I fell hard. I fell head over heels for yoga. It started out as a strictly physical practice, but then I noticed the other benefits. With daily yoga and meditation, I started to feel like myself again. I was happy again. And sober!
My boyfriend definitely noticed the changes in me as I fell deeper into my love affair with yoga. He started to get angry about it. I was spending too much time downward dogging when I should have been cooking him dinner or cleaning his house. I admit that my “girlfriend duties” started to slack a bit more. But the truth is I started to see things from a different perspective. I was starting to see how little respect I had for myself. I would start thinking to myself, “He can wait another hour for dinner while I practice” or, “The house isn’t even dirty and what is a little bit of dirt if those living in it are happy?” He didn’t like this new perspective I had.
Then one day I brought up the idea of becoming a yoga teacher. I think this may have been one of the biggest breaking points of the relationship with my boyfriend. He was scared. He was scared that I would want to quit my full-time, corporate job to become a yoga teacher. He was scared that one day I wouldn’t be making as much money and he wouldn’t be able to live the life that he wanted. Well despite his fears and threats to leave me if I were to go through with the certification, I did it. I committed to my 200-hour yoga teacher training. And cue World War III.
I can’t count how many times I showed up to teacher training those weekends and just cried with my new tribe. Those women, those seven other beautiful goddesses of women who shared that journey with me, were one of the best things that happened to me. Seriously you guys, you saved me. As we discussed the yamas and the niyamas, The Bhagavad Gita, and other aspects of yoga philosophy, something amazing happened within me. I could finally see that the way that I was being treated was not right.
I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t see it before. The way that I was made to feel guilty for ever doing anything for just me was not right. The way I was controlled was not right. I’d like to tell you that I left him right then and there, but I didn’t. It took me over a year to actually escape. I was scared. I was confused. And I was being manipulated.
But I kept practicing and I kept teaching. I found my sanity through yoga. Those couple hours a week, when I would get to leave his house and just go flow with beautiful souls were what kept me going. I felt freedom during my practice. (I still do.)
Then one day, it happened. I’m not sure what pushed me to finally take the leap of faith into the unknown. But one day, I came home and told him I had signed a lease and would be moving out at the end of the week. That week was absolute hell. But I kept practicing.
Yoga taught me to love myself unconditionally—even the darkest parts of my soul. It opened my eyes and made everything clear. It taught me that I deserved better; I deserved respect, not only from others but also from myself. So, although yoga had started a massive storm in my life, I know that after the storms pass there are rainbows.
Yoga changed my life. It ruined my relationship. It rescued me from toxicity and I am forever grateful for that. Yoga will always love me, and I will always love yoga.
If you’re thinking about starting a yoga practice, be ready for the storm. Yoga brings up your sh*t, dude. It calls you out and forces you to want to make changes. But it always has your best interest at heart. Just keep practicing.
The light within me honors the light that is within you.
Author: Andrea Valerino
Image: Author’s own / Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen