Yoga is a deeply personal practice. You are surrounded by other people, yet you are completely in your own space- focused on your breath, focused on your movements, focused on parts of your body you never thought to focus on. This seems overwhelming but once you get in the groove of your breath, and if you have an intention as to why you are there standing on a mat, then the focusing comes easy. It’s natural, it’s freeing, and it’s yours.
I could be having a terrible day but once I set up my mat and embrace the open atmosphere of a yoga studio, all negative tensions and feelings melt away. I could also be having a great day and after a yoga class somehow feel even better, even lighter. And for embracing those reasons is how yoga saved my life.
I have dealt with depression for the past four years. College wasn’t what I would call the best years of my life. I abused alcohol, did not respect myself, couldn’t keep healthy relationships, and was suicidal. All of this stemmed from one night when someone I had once trusted and devoted myself to took advantage of me and raped me.
I have denied this, kept this secret, and blamed myself. To this day I am not comfortable about it and probably never will be, but I have accepted what happened. What was done to me has made me stronger in ways I didn’t think possible. I still have symptoms of PTSD, but yoga has helped me deal with that. I am more relaxed, less anxious, and less stressed and, if any of those symptoms do occur, I am more capable of dealing with them in a healthy manner.
Yoga opens your mind in ways I can’t rightfully describe. It is not a cure- but if one allows oneself to be open and just breathe, it makes life a hell of a lot better. It can be scary- really scary- but I have never regretted going to a yoga class.
One of my favorite Doctor Who quotes (yes, getting a little nerdy here) is this, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things but, vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”
Yoga is not going to make what happened go away, but what happened is not going to stop me from doing yoga. What happened to me is not going to stop me from living my life.
Yoga has taught me acceptance. In yoga, the most important thing to do is listen to your body. Naturally, your body wants to be in a neutral state. A relaxed state. No pressure to be happy all of the time, but awareness of the need to listen to your body when it’s time to take care of yourself.
Gliding into familiar poses, challenging my body in new poses, or accomplishing an advanced stage of a pose awakens my soul and lets my body know that I’m present in each moment... that I'm not giving up.
Accept your breath, accept how you feel after a practice, accept that you want to keep going. Life is a lot easier when you stop fighting, especially if you’re only fighting against yourself. Letting go of your internal battle is not defeat. It’s acceptance and victory.
About the Author
The writer has always been interested in yoga and spirituality and is excited to start Yoga Teacher Training in the fall. Once completed, she hopes to be involved in Transformation Yoga Project.