Really, it did. That may sound cliché and exaggerated but I honestly do not know if I would still be here today unless yoga had to gallantly swept me away. In the depth of my despair yoga found me and taught me to live a more aligned, calmer, kinder life. And that started with me, internally.
I have a history of depression and my recovery has made me very aware of my triggers. And even more aware of my destructive behaviours. During my mum’s treatments, during my 3 months awaiting my visa I noticed these. I noticed myself driving recklessly without care of consequences, crossing the road without looking, drinking so I didn’t have to feel anymore. I knew where this path lead and I wasn’t going to let it take me again. Grief drove me to look internally. Then, yoga took the wheel.
I’ve toyed with the idea of being a yogi for probably ten years. During uni, I did the Bad Yogi 30 day yoga challenge. Practicing in my little bedroom in South London at midnight after my server shifts. Back in my hometown during my mum’s first treatments I would practice in the kitchen of my dad’s flat after going to the gym. However, it was 2016 when I fully committed myself to yoga. Committed myself to the health of my body and mind. To truly stop blaming others for my problems. How little I knew of how big a part of me it would become. Two years later and I am less “me” than I have ever been yet more truly me than I had ever imagined.
Yoga lit a path for me through grief, loneliness, separation, despair, betrayal and loss. Yoga has changed my life in so many ways that I thought I’d share them with y’all. Because yoga is love and it’s never to late to love yourself.
Yoga taught me to be vulnerable.
Yoga taught me to accept and feel all the feelings I was feeling. Through connecting with my body, with the weakness and the wobbles, the failure in pose after pose, yoga taught me to accept where I am and accept that progress is coming.
Yoga taught me true mind, body connection.
I began yoga for the effortless splits and incredibly backbends. I began yoga for the picturesque sunset asanas on the gram. What I found was a true connection between my mind and my body. The time on my mat taught me to feel my body, feel the aches and the tightness, feel the weakness and stability. Yoga taught me to focus on how I was feeling at that very moment. Each time I practiced I was present. And present felt so so good. I have developed such an admiration for my body. My body has taught me that whenever I show up she shows up. She grows, she strengthens. And she is always there.
Yoga taught me that I can be stable.
Yoga taught me that no matter the chaos in my head my body turns up for me every single time and will lead me home. It is a stability I have always craved. I know I can find stability on the mat. Even if just for 15 minutes. 15 minutes of stability can be enough to carry me through the day.
Yoga taught me that adjustments in life aren’t just okay, but they are necessary.
For each asana I have fallen on my face, to each twisted knee or sprained wrist I have learned if you don’t adjust you fall. Yoga has taught me to listen to what my body needs and to provide it immediately. I have transferred this into my life outside my mat. I have learned to listen to what my soul needs and provide it. If it needs companionship, I don’t delay. If it needs to be in the safety of home, I take it there. You have to adjust. Just like I adjust my warrior 3 to hold it for longer, I’d rather adjust my plans to feel safe and calm tomorrow.
Yoga taught me love, compassion and kindness.
In finding the true connection with my physical self, I have learned to be kind to my body. To rest when needed and to push when I can. This has extended outwards to be kind to others. I sought my mat in my moments of deep despair, when the world was heavier than it had ever been. Time on my mat has taught me to question what others are truly going through, to treat them how I needed to be treated during my grief.
Yoga taught me to feel, deeply feel.
I have never felt as deeply as I do on my mat. What I enjoy about it is the authenticity without the dramatics. I feel my feelings more deeply than ever before, yet with every breath I am processing and releasing. I am feeling and moving through my emotions. I step off the mat calmer and lighter than before. Occasionally I break down and tears fall too easily during my practice. Aligned with the practice of non-attachment, I acknowledge the tears and the feelings that brought them. I allow them to flow and release their power in to the world.
Yoga taught me to breathe and to be still.
In a world of such moment. LED screens and noise always! Yoga has taught me the medicine of a deep breath and the satisfaction of stillness. We cannot make progress at 100 mph. You need to be still to feel. Savasana has allowed me to find comfort in stillness and joy in thoughtlessness. To stop my brain for 5 minute meditation allows me the strength to keep going.
Yoga taught me to appreciate silence. Yoga taught me responsibility.
As one focuses inward, it is hard to avoid external responsibility. It permeates. Yoga began as a physical practice, working on my body. It became an internal practice of non-attachment and kindness. When leading life being as kind to yourself as possible it is hard to not notice the world around you. Internal compassion has lead to eating organic food, creating less waste, eating less meat and being aware of my day to day impact on the world. If you would have told me 2 years ago that yoga could teach social and environmental responsibility I would have laughed you down the street.
I have learned, however, that it is impossible to try to better oneself without seeking the betterment of the world around you.
If you’ve ever felt off balance, unstable, scared, overwhelmed or confused. Yoga can and will help you if you give it the chance. So many people have said it, that at some point it must become true. Be kind to yourself and the world will be a better place.
P.S. Yoga is a lot of fancy poses. But mostly you’ll find me like this. Savasana, corpse pose, where I find my meditation.