By Alicia Moore
We all have our own yoga story. You know, when we found our mats, why we walked through our first yoga studio door, or how we came to purchase our first Vinyasa tape or DVD. I’ve never really shared my yoga story. Sure, I’ve talked about teenage anxiety, my family doctor prescribing yoga when I was eighteen, but I’ve never told the WHOLE story.
Let’s go back about 20 years:
A month and a day before my sixteenth birthday I became a mass shooting survivor. I don’t like to go into too much detail about the actual event, so I’ll refrain from doing so here. The aftermath, for me, was extremely difficult. I stopped sleeping, eating, talking. I no longer felt safe leaving my house, so I hid in my room most of the time, curled up in a little ball. When I was forced to leave the house, I would suffer from debilitating anxiety. I was constantly afraid of getting shot or trapped. Therefore, I made myself small, invisible, silent. I shallowed my breath, lightened my footsteps, and folded myself in half–knees to chest, back rounded, shoulders forward (so un-yogi like).
This went on for over two years.
It wasn’t until I finally decided to go to my doctor, begging and pleading for something other than pills to help me. Because the medicine wasn’t helping; I was still afraid, still folded in half, still restless, sleepless, hopeless. My doctor sat with me, and he suggested two things: therapy and yoga. At that age I was very put-off by therapy, so I decided to try out some yoga. I checked-out a tape (VHS) from the library and thus began my yogic journey.
Now, I won’t claim that yoga itself magically changed my life, but it did offer me tools that essentially increased my quality of life. Yoga taught me how to open my heart, it taught me how to move my body again, and it taught me acceptance. I think that the most valuable part of yoga for me has been the deeper life lessons. We always say, as instructors, that yoga is about the journey. I’m sure you’ve all heard that once or twice. And yoga is about the journey, there is no set destination. We constantly learn and grow within our practice, much like we do, or strive to do, in our lives. Yoga is about the journey, so is life. Our bodies, much like the progression of our lives, don’t always move and work the way we’d like them to. We are often thrown curve balls, but if we accept what comes our way as part of the process, we begin to appreciate the smaller pieces, the often overlooked aspects of our existence. My practice has become a sort of metaphor for life, I suppose.
So, did yoga save me? No. But it did help me find a way to save myself.
There you have it, my yoga story. I would love to hear all of your stories! Please feel free to share them in the comment section below.