Yoga Saved My Life (Probably)

What happened to me was not unique.

My parents got divorced when I was thirteen, just about to be a freshman in high school. This effected me in many obvious ways, and many not-so obvious ways. You could say this was my growing up moment. The part of my life where things changed and I realized we’d gone past the point where things could just go back to the way they used to be.

My freshman and sophomore year of high school I had a lot of panic attacks. Some of it was due to other things, but it was also because a piece of me had been twisted and hurt and broken, and I’d never had the courage to look at it. I hid that part away– I figured it would be easier to ignore it. I was tired, and angry, and depressed. Until I wasn’t. Until I woke up one day– literally– and decided that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) be tired, and angry, and depressed anymore.

I have this aunt– a really wonderful and kind and understanding aunt who owns a yoga studio. She was always inviting us to come by and do classes just after Thanksgiving, 2013, I took her up on her offer. Since then, I’ve practiced on and off for the last two years. Not so much in the past year, but I didn’t need it then. I’m writing this because I need it now.

More than anything, yoga was there for me when I needed it the most. In class I practice Ashtanga, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, there are a myriad of online teachers that have their own things to say and teach (I’m partial to Yoga with Adriene). It’s spiritually based– yoga is a thousand years old. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it all the way. I don’t dare consider myself Hindu in any way, but there’s merit to connecting your mind and your body.

Frankly, I just don’t have time for people who see yoga as a trendy exercise fad.

There’s a man who changed my life– his name is Chip. He taught a Saturday morning class I went to for maybe three or four months. Maybe longer, maybe shorter. If you haven’t realized by now, I’m not great with dates. He said a lot of things that I think about a lot, still. These are two.

Watch yourself from the bench. When things get hard, imagine yourself sitting on a bench, watching this hard thing happen to your body. Your bones are stronger than your muscles; your mind is stronger than your bones.

A lot of demons come up when you’re standing still. One of the hardest poses in the Ashtanga sequence is samastitihi. Equal standing posture. Basically, it’s the part where you stand still with your hands pressed together at your heart. It’s so simple, but it forces you to face a lot of demons, a lot of sludge and grudge that rises to the surface of your mind. You’re just standing there– you have to do it.

Often in class you set intentions, but this is a good practice for always. At the end of class, there’s usually a time for– something. A prayer, maybe. I choose to say a gratitude. I have one intention and three gratitudes. These are deeply personal but I will share them today.

One Intention: Be at Peace

Three Gratitudes: Thank you for softening me, for hardening me, and for infusing me with the energy of this world.  

I hope you are at peace today.