Though I was an on and off practitioner over the years, it wasn’t until this year that yoga slapped me in the face and saved my life. I had come to the practice at around the age of 15. I knew it spoke to me but never quite connected deeply.
I lived in an area where yoga was viewed as an elitist activity where you needed the right pants to reap the benefits. I never resonated with the classes but loved how it felt in my body. Then I moved a continent away and found the practice again, this time in a more personal way. I reconnected with it and began to dive into meditation. When I returned home, my practice was moved to the back burner. This remained true for about 4 years.
Then I decided I needed to move again. This time with a bit more permanence. I travelled to Colorado briefly to see if it would welcome me with open arms. I loved it and knew I needed to make it my new home.
I remember the last night I was there before returning home. I hate flying so normal anxiety presented itself. I brushed it aside but the whole night before the trip home I was so uneasy. Like toss and turn and want to throw up uneasy. I returned home safely, but I knew wasn’t coming back into normalcy. I could feel it in the air. I stopped in to see my mother and felt all the way to my core something was very, very wrong. The evening before my younger brother had attempted to commit suicide.
Nothing mattered anymore. All I wanted was to heal those around me. Not only send all my healing energy to him but to my family as well. I remember thinking that I have to be so careful because if something were to happen to me the world would end. All of my energy was spent trying to rescue everyone around me.
Months went by and his beautifully painful healing began. I knew I still had to move. Despite feeling like I was abandoning my family I was able to go. I arrived, groundless. I knew I was in the right place but everything around me felt so far out of my reach. I picked up my habitual practice hoping to find my footing. I dropped into my love of yoga to the point where I enrolled in a yoga teacher training.
In the weeks leading up to the training, I felt like at any moment my head would just float right off my body. If my text to family wasn’t answered fast enough I was sure that someone was dead. To the point where I would imagine the conversation I would have to have with my yoga teacher about how I wouldn’t be there because I would be at a funeral. Someone would walk by wearing a perfume similar to my mothers and I took that as a sign that something was wrong. I couldn’t have my phone in my sight because I didn’t want to see the incoming call that was going to give me the bad news. I knew how ridiculous this was so I didn’t speak my concerns out loud. I didn’t want to burden my family with my suffering because I was okay, I had to be okay.
I came to the teacher training not knowing what to expect. I wanted to deepen my understanding of the practice but had no other concrete intentions. I loved the classes but was still never fully present. Half of my heart was always rooted in anxiety. I wanted so badly for everyone to be okay I never once thought about how I was.
Then, I walked into the day that changed my life.
I remember it vividly. We were scheduled to learn about the Yamas of yoga. The ways in which a yogi can lead a peaceful life. Right there the first Yama smacked me right in the face. Ahimsa. You are not here to rescue anyone, and thinking you can rescue someone is a form of violence.
I stared at that line. You are not here to rescue anyone.
I kept staring at it. You are not here to rescue anyone.
I couldn’t hear anything, so much emotion was stirring inside of me. You are not here to rescue anyone. I burst into tears. I had taken on a job that I was never supposed to. It wasn’t my responsibility to hold everything together!?
Yoga lifted a 500 pound weight off my shoulders that day. My healing was able to begin. It wasn’t a cure-all and I certainly still struggle. The difference is I can keep my feet on the ground. I can root in my self-worth and know my purpose. My relationships are closer. I can have a conversation with my anxiety. I am a Yoga Girl because when my head is in the dark and stormy clouds, yoga keeps my feet firmly on the ground.