How Yoga Moved My Life From Darkness To Light
I came to yoga because I was lonely, confused, and (quite honestly) a mess. I desperately longed for human connection and a new direction in life.
My life turned upside down in a matter of months in the spring/summer of 2014. I moved back to my hometown after living in Chicago for 7 years. The catalyst for my return home was the fact that my dad was diagnosed with MS the previous year. He was no longer able to work while simultaneously facing the harsh realities of forced, early retirement and the loss of his physical abilities. Watching my father grieve his former life was (and is) tremendously painful.
At this time, I moved home with my boyfriend of four years, the love of my life. We started dating in our mid-twenties. We loved to party with our friends on the weekends and hear their bands play live music. We both had flexible work schedules and our social lives felt more important than work at the time. Towards the end of our relationship, I started to become more serious about my career and took a well-paying 9-5 job in the home-care industry. I started to want things like marriage and family with the man I loved. We moved home together and I thought these were the next steps however the move is actually what broke us- it forced us to admit we wanted very different things in life. I wanted to build a future and he wanted to keep living as we had been, easy and free. Even though we shared a deep love for each other, we agreed it was best to start building lives apart from each other.
To this day, the move home was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Four years later, and I still feel as though I’m learning to grieve in healthy ways.
This brings me to yoga.
I spent that New Years alone – a test to myself to see if I could survive a big night alone without drinking to numb the pain. I had spent so many other nights crying myself to sleep or not sleeping at all, consumed with pain and sadness. I set an intention for myself in the new year that I was not going to let the dark cloud of grief dictate my life any longer. I needed a new framework for living.
On January 1, 2015 I went to my first yoga class in years. I was amidst a crowd of others, perhaps sharing the similar sentiments. I remember choosing a spot in the back where (hopefully) no one would notice me. I remember feeling at peace, even welcomed in a sense. I felt enough in that first class to keep coming back and that is all that mattered.
Yoga to me became a place where it was ‘okay’ to fail or to show up messy. It didn’t matter how well you knew the poses or how long you could hold them. All that mattered was that you showed up. That type of unconditional love and acceptance felt tremendously healing to me at the time. It felt like I had a refugee in a world of internal chaos.
As I developed a deeper practice, I began to match my movement with my breath and that is where the real magic happened. For a moment, one brief moment, the thoughts in my mind dropped away. The relief was so sweet. For a brief space in time I didn’t have to carry the burdens of grief with me. I was free to be weightless. Free to be present. Free to be.
And for me, that was all I needed to keep coming back.
My life today is much brighter, much lighter in a sense. The tools I’ve learned through yoga help me cope with the stresses of life in a healthy way. I now meditate daily, practice mindfulness, and have a strong asana practice. I became certified as a yoga teacher in 2017 and spent July 2018 volunteering in a refugee camp in Greece where I taught yoga to the residents, staff, and volunteers.
Yoga has shaped my life in ways I never knew possible, perhaps in ways I never could have envisioned. The losses or grief I’ve suffered turned into new beginnings. Now, yoga is not only a personal practice, but I gift of love I can share with everyone I meet.
Yoga for me is now a lifestyle, an act of loving kindness- a constant practice for me on and off the mat.
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