How yoga keeps me sane and well
Almost one year ago today, a few weeks after losing a job I loved, I was standing in line at the grocery store when I got a call from my doctor. The results of a routine lab test were not good. I put down the milk, picked up a yoga mat, and headed to my first hot yoga class. Sixty days later, I emerged with a new body, and more importantly, a new mind.
Yoga saved me. The strength I found within myself on the mat, as I sweated and stretched and pushed myself past limits I thought I would never overcome, served me well in the coming months, as I faced challenges in my personal life that were also beyond what I thought I could handle.
That’s why I want to be a yoga teacher. When you find something that works, something that calms your mind, restores your spirit, energizes your body, you want to share that something with everyone you know. My surgery was successful. My job loss was temporary. The strength and poise and inner sense of peace I gained were far more valuable than what I lost.
Through the pain of loss, the universe gave me time to connect with myself. And yoga—which means union—was the instrument of that connection.
Today my son and I were featured in a Nova documentary on PBS with a truly awful title: “Mind of a Rampage Killer.” But the documentary itself, crafted by Miles O’Brien, told a compassionate and compelling story about families’ struggles with mental disorders. My son and I were honored and humbled to be a part of this critical conversation. We have learned firsthand the power of advocacy, of speaking out and sharing your story.
Mental health is an overwhelming problem for families everywhere. I think that yoga can be a part of managing this difficult illness. The practice of yoga strengthens the body and mind. I want to share this path to strength and serenity with others, even as I continue to develop in my own practice.
One of my former yoga teachers used to say, “This is simple. It is not easy.” I have adopted this mantra as a guide for my own practice and my life. I have learned to accept myself, my limitations. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned to let go.
Today I introduced Gabriel Azoulay to our BikYasa class at Hollywood Market Yoga in Boise. Gabriel has practiced yoga for 20 years. His favorite pose is full camel because it opens the heart (my own favorite is camel because it gets rid of the excrement, if you know what I mean). Gabe developed Bikyasa because he wanted to share his practice with others. He is a knowledgeable, passionate instructor, and I am really looking forward to learning more over the next few days.
Yoga teacher training is the reason vacation days exist. The next few days (minus a few mandatory faculty meetings and appointments with my son’s healthcare providers) are all about me. That’s not selfish—it’s self-care. If your family is struggling, or if you are caregiver, take time for yourself. Consider coming to the mat, to Child’s Pose.
Sometimes all we can control is our breath. And sometimes, the grace of that gift of breath is enough.