You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach during times of crushing disappointment and loss? Yea, I wish I could say I didn’t know it, but sadly I have been enduring it for most of 2014. This emotion just kind of stays with you like an extra layer of skin. It permeates your senses and renders you weak, hopeless, defeated and severely dejected. There were many times when getting out of bed was so challenging. I would just cry on the way to work, cry at random points during work and also cry on the drive back home. Yea – I was a giant cloud of misery. Few things would cheer me up. The things I did, ate, experienced all seemed insipid and it was quite difficult for me to see the good that was already around me.
‘Twas the worst of times.
The small silver lining in my grey, grey world was yoga.
First of all, teaching yoga was a distraction – in a good way – not the let-me-numb-my-senses-with-my-iTechinicaldevice-way. When I was teaching, my brain was thinking about poses, cues, adjustments, breathing and more. I didn’t ruminate or constantly think about my miserable state of mind. Truthfully speaking, the only time I was present in the moment, was in the space of yoga. Activities such as arriving at the studio, getting my alone time to center myself, lighting candles in the yoga room, going over the asana sequence in my head and being around the other teachers at the studio were all little bursts of sunshine for me. I enjoyed greeting my students as well as talking to them after class and seeing their post-Savasana faces filled with calmness and gratitude.
A few months ago, I reached my lowest point. I allowed the hopelessness I felt to take over and entertained the idea of ending my life. Thankfully, I was immediately yanked out of this crazy talk by my close friends and family who reminded me of all the good there is in this world. They reiterated the importance of yoga in my life and how it has become a part of who I am. They emphasized the work that I do with students and the joy I get from it.
Yoga has given me purpose. Yoga quite literally saved me from making a HUGE mistake and losing all that I hold near and dear.
Teaching yoga was one thing, but practicing yoga was a whole different ball game. For a while, I simply didn’t do it. I would try to roll out my mat and tell myself to get on it and do some sun salutations, but I’d end up staring at my mat, feeling listless, rolling it back up and then mentally curse myself for giving up.
As time went by, I slowly began attending classes. In one of my favorite classes, we would chant a mantra in the beginning. A different mantra was chosen for each class such as compassion, or love for everyone, or peace for oneself, etc. I would hold onto to that mantra for dear life. Those 90 minutes were defining moments of peace and growth for me. It took a lot of work, concentration and focus on my part to NOT drift into my normal patterns of negative thinking. Yoga’s emphasis on compassion and non-violence (Ahimsa) towards all things, especially oneself was a huge help to me. In each class, I would try really hard to give gratitude for all that my body could do and be.
It has been a painfully slow process, but now I don’t feel so lukewarm when I sense the mat beneath my feet. I believe in the strength of my shoulders as they not only hold up my head, but also my dignity. My hamstrings and quads support me in warrior poses but also help me walk in life. Sun salutations assist in making me feel empowered. Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose) reminds me of the power of meditation and breathing.
Our brains and hearts are amazing machines. We as humans, are astonishingly resilient in the face of hardship. Yoga has helped me see that in myself.
I am not fully healed. I am also not suggesting that yoga is the one and only solution for heartbreak (I did have quite a bit of help from professionals, family and my ride-or-die friends) I wish I could say I’m riding on a magical unicorn called yoga. I’m not on a higher plane of consciousness or awareness or happiness. I’m still on a journey. It’s just less painful now.
In my moments of despair, I would fervently search for answers, and figments of hope – just ANYTHING to help ease the pain. I would look for self-help articles, or books, or words, or people – just anything and anyone who could help me figure out a way get out of the dark hole I was in. But I’ve found that there is no one cure, no one answer. It is ultimately up to ourselves to choose to forgive oneself and heal. We live in a time of plenty where there are numerous tools at our disposal to help with that. I just found yoga to be one of mine.
Do your practice and all is coming – Shri. K. Pattabhi Jois
I dedicate this post to all those out there who are enduring hardship, pain, and loss. Just know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you have a right to be happy.
Thanks so much for reading.