Originally published on Bad Yogi, find the article here
Cut to 18 year old me who didn’t know much about life. I was suddenly heartbroken by my high school sweetheart and by my parents moving very far away. I was heartbroken by life and I felt like the universe had betrayed me.
My consistent attitude was, “Hey thanks, forces of life, I’ll take the knife out of my own back now, okay bye.”
Everyone kept telling me to “get involved” or “go make friends,” blah, blah, blah. All of those things are hard to do when you don’t even have the motivation to feed yourself, let alone study enough to not fail out of college.
I decided to go to a yoga class to, ya know, get connected to my inner peace or something. I walked into my first class, incredibly awkward and self-conscious, and almost wimped out. I just about walked right out of there, got a pint of ice cream, and went to cry myself to sleep again.
Then I heard music playing—specifically some good ol’ Rusted Root. The lyric “I would like to reach out my hand” meant more to me in that moment than it ever has before or since. I looked at the instructor and saw she had Shirley Temple curls with the dimples and kind eyes to match. Needless to say, something was telling me to stay.
I stayed, and it was one of the best decisions I made during that time of my life. If I was having a bad day, I went to class twice. I went to class when I felt vulnerable, lonely, sad, or stressed.
Yoga class almost became an addiction and I felt like I needed it every day or I might not be mentally clear. While yoga didn’t help me be mentally clear enough to pass chemistry (that sh*t is hard), it did teach me a few things that have carried into my adult life.
Yoga taught me to nurture my inner-self’s desires. You’ll always find fresh flowers on my kitchen table and you bet I’m not waiting around for a man to buy them for me. When something in the room is fresh and alive, it reminds you to be the same way. Spending $5 per week on flowers that brighten my spirit every morning is a selfish act that I’m more than willing to participate in. It’s much easier to spread good vibes into the universe when you let yourself have one little thing that feeds your soul.
It taught me to trust myself. My ability to trust myself and my decisions in life has become stronger. When you’re picking up your feet for the first time in crow, it is scary as hell and you think you’re going to fall on your face. The hard reality of crow is you very well might fall on your face, but even if you break your nose…you’ll survive. Only when you learn to trust yourself, your body, and your balance is a successful crow pose achieved. In life, only when you learn to trust your gut, your instincts, and your decisions is when success, contentment, and peace are achieved.
And most importantly, it taught me how to clear my mind. I remember a yoga instructor telling me once that yoga is the practice of tiring your mind and body so that you can achieve a state of meditation during savasana. There are some days where my mind is polluted with problems, stresses, and anxieties but there are also days where I can actually let my tongue fall from the roof of my mouth and completely zone out for 10 minutes. (Also, if you just consciously let your tongue fall from the roof of your mouth after reading that, good job your tense facial muscles will thank you for it.) On my mind-polluted days, I envision all of my problems written out on a chalkboard, and then I mentally erase them one by one. Some days some problems erase better than others, but part of yoga is accepting your mind and body where they are at that very moment.
My heartbreaks led me to one of the most beneficial things in my life in the form of yoga. My spiritual overhaul has made me a better person, daughter, sister, friend, and general human being.
Shanti, shanti, shanti
To all of the heartbroken-turned-boss b*tches after starting to practice yoga, namaste.