What is yoga to me?
Yoga is stillness.
It is coming to my mat exactly as I am that day, in that moment, knowing that after I will be a bit clearer than I was before I came to my practice.
It is about leaning into the discomfort, into the unknown, into the balance.
Yoga is consciousness, to me.
It is a place that I connect with myself on a deeper level and become a better version of myself.
Oh, and I am not even talking about the physical postures.
I am talking about the practice of taking what I learn on my mat, off my mat; to life.
Let’s get really real here.
I really lost myself for a solid year of my life. I couldn’t tell you what I wanted, who I was, or what was going on inside my brain because of the debilitating anxiety I was experiencing.
I felt like I was living my days in a constant loop inside my mind, that I couldn’t seem to slow down.
I couldn’t find a way to articulate to anyone what was going on because I didn’t know what was causing it.
I felt so incredibly stuck inside my head. Tense, I would say.
I fought it, tried to get things to slow down, went to therapy, took hot baths with lavender, googled how to get past this anxiety and for a short period of time fell into a depression because I could not get a grasp on my mind.
What happened was that I could not get relief because I was denying the root of everything- my constant need to get ahead, to be better, to please everyone, to let people outside of my life tell me how to live my life.
I started having panic attacks, where I couldn’t catch my breath due to the overwhelming nature of my thoughts inside my mind. My heart would race, my legs would go numb and I felt like all I could do was ride the wave that I desperately wanted to get off of.
I remember one night googling how to get past anxiety, and taking this test, thinking at the end of it I would receive some advice, some connection, something to make me feel less, well, crazy.
Instead I got the results of this test showing that my anxiety was at the highest of the charts that they provided; hmm okay, I knew I was struggling, got it. And then, they tried to sell me a pill.
I really just spent all this time for nothing. I broke down. What if I feel like this forever? What is wrong with me?
I felt all this pressure to show up for other people, like I was letting friends down, my love down, family down, etc. But I forgot the most important person that I was letting down.
I was not showing up for myself.
Until I heard about meditation, and how it may help.
I tried it by downloading the HeadSpace app (still my favorite app for meditation) and the first time, I fell asleep.
Well, that wasn’t what was supposed to happen, right?
So next time I was feeling all of these things at once and I couldn’t even take a breath above the water, I did something different.
I rolled out my mat, I cried on it, I didn’t move and I listened to a meditation.
That day, has dramatically shifted my life.
I learned how to surrender in that moment.
I learned how to show up for myself when I needed me the most.
I learned how to breathe above the water.
From that day on, I decided to bring yoga and meditation back into my daily routine.
I had done yoga in college and here and there in Texas but not a true daily practice.
There was a major shift for me when I came out the other side of the anxiety and panic attacks, grounded myself + started my practice.
It was no longer about hitting a perfect pose, being flexible or getting a workout in when I went to yoga.
I do yoga for clarity.
To create space in my mind.
To remove the tension.
To SLOW DOWN.
To rid myself of the constant need to be busy.
To be PRESENT.
To feel calm.
To find joy.
Every. Single. Day.
I roll out my mat at home much more now than I did in the past, ever since starting teacher training. And it is beautiful to have something that I can always come back to. That I do not have to strain myself and push myself but instead just be as I am, here in the now. To find beauty in the little moments in life.
Teddy has been the most amazing husband through all of this. He watched me crumble, he watched me not be able to breathe, he listened, he lifted me up, he kept reminding me who I was when I felt like I couldn’t find my way up and he watched me find my peace + clarity with this practice. He rolls out my mat and points to it when I am being cranky (lol), he knows when I am feeling anxious and gently reminds me that I should go do a meditation, because I will feel better.
Yoga to me, is so much more than moving.
It has given me my best, most joyous, present, able, powerful, clear and grounded self back.
I know the power in my practice and I know how I feel when I lose it.
I finally know what I need, I do not need to desperately hope for something to change when I am struggling.
I know exactly what I need more of.
You know what else is cool?
Last week I woke up feeling really anxious, went to yoga, still couldn’t shake the anxiety. I didn’t know where it came from and was not finding any stressors. But instead of being mad at the fact that this is still something I experience, I allowed myself to feel that way for the day. It wasn’t going to help to force my way through it.
The coolest part of it was that halfway through the day, I felt lighter. Then I realized, this is the first day in MONTHS that I have felt any sort of anxiety. And that is something to celebrate. Because in the past it was the other way around. One clear day was the surprise.
Now, my days are clear and anxiety is a small part of my life that happens from time to time. And I am so filled with gratitude to be able to write that sentence that I cannot type fast enough.
I am so thankful for this practice. For the space in my mind that meditation and yoga have given me back.
I am thankful to be able to share from an authentic place.
I hope that you find your yoga.
Whatever it is that makes you feel grounded, present and alive; lean into that.
And just remember- at the beginning of every day there is a sunrise and at the end of each there is a sunset. A powerful reset and fresh start and bewildered expression of gratitude. If you want a reminder to live in the present moment, wake up early enough to reset and walk outside at night to be thankful.
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