You Are A Thousand Times Enough

“That was the first thing that attracted me to you, the way you carried yourself.” Jake had insisted. I didn’t at first have any clue as to what confidence he had seen in me when we had first began dating almost 6 years ago. “What do you mean the way I carried myself?,” I looked at Jake with a confused but stern look. I began working on my insecurities more than a year ago, shortly after I had started my home yoga practice in 2016.

Before yoga, I wouldn’t dare show a hint of skin other than on my arms and legs on a sunny day. I was too embarrassed. I’ve labored two children and I am left with a reminder of their birth found in the lines that seemed to make some sort of map on my belly and thighs. I had never been comfortable with my own body even before my children had been conceived. Although I had been raised in a decent home, I grew up with mental abuse that left me feeling inadequate and at times ashamed of my skin and every inch that represented me. If only I had a smaller nose, if I was just a little shorter or skinnier, and maybe if I had an hour glass figure. These thoughts ran rapid daily inside the soul of my being. At one point I had developed an eating disorder. I obsessed over my weight and eating habits. Some days I battled binge eating while other days I didn’t eat at all. The scale would determine my punishment each day. I kept everything as secret as I possibly could as not to alarm anyone because I felt I had everything under control. I had lived this way for years and I was growing more tired every moment.

It wasn’t until I began practicing yoga that things started to change. It definitely wasn’t like where one day I woke up and suddenly I had cured myself of depression and anxiety. It was more of a slow process and I didn’t even realize what was happening at the time. It was around 3-4 months into my practice before I had started to shed my layers. I believe it happened the first time I posted a video on Instagram. I posted while inverted in a yoga bra and leggings. I didn’t do it out of spite as to prove something but more or less that I was so concerned about  my yoga practice, that I wasn’t as consumed about my insecurities. I was more interested in the positions for which I could scrunch my body into or the extension I could get while inverted or flowing in arm balances. Shocked that I could even do some of the things I had seen on social media after lots of practice, I continued to develop my strength all while noticing my flaws less everyday. I think that is just one of many things about yoga that is healing. Sure the physical practice is what originally lured me into my yoga journey, but soon it became much more than that. The more I learned about the spirituality, the more ambitious I became wanting to experience the different limbs of yoga. It was a while before I fully gave myself to my practice, including spiritually, but it has been worth the struggle and has helped me to open my mind to so many possibilities.

If I told you I was healed and I no longer  worried about body image, I’d be lying to you. There are some days I still struggle and worry about the judgement of others, but the spiritual part of this practice is helping me overcome my fears. Anywhere from meditation to yoga teacher training, I feel constant guidance on my path. I’ve never felt like I’ve had the support I needed, until I went on this journey. With plenty of places to turn to and beautiful souls who inspire, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have purpose and I am exactly where I need to be.

How has yoga affected you?

The beginning of my Yoga Journey

img_1190“Wow, that’s pretty amazing,” I told my boyfriend Jake of 5 years, after he had showed me some pictures of his friends significant others getting into some crazy yoga poses. At the time I thought they were impossible and that I had to be some sort of gymnast to be able to preform these astounding poses. Jake, at the time was trying to include me on his everyday adventures to visit his friends, and thought I might be more interested in going if I had female friends to interact with. Although it seemed at times that I didn’t have the slightest interest in yoga, my curiosity got the best of me after about of month of Jake trying to entice me on this journey. Jake knew me better than I knew myself. He knew I was falling into some sort of depression, and that I needed something to help me focus and pull me out of this rut that I had seemed to fall into. I had spent a majority of my twenties at the gym for active exercise as well as competing in triathlons, and bike runs by the time I reached my 30’s. Although I dedicated quite some time to these events, I wasn’t happy inside and I hadn’t been in a long time.

Before I began this journey, I was living a life of going through the motions without any thought or care. I was raised to believe that in order to be successful, I needed a decent husband, a good career and a house. Even when I knew deep down that none of these things would make me content, I pursued them anyways. I pursued them because I wanted to be happy so bad, and I wanted more out of life. While trying to be everything I thought was expected of me, I had found yoga sometime in the beginning of last year(2016) through Jake. I was reluctant to start my own practice and had to see with my own eyes before I could be astonished enough start down a new path. I had spent a majority of my life battling depression and anxiety and didn’t see any end in sight.

At age 34(In 2016), I started making small life changes although I wasn’t aware at the time of the transition, or why i was starting to feel different emotionally about myself. The changes began when I started seeking friendships with other yogis. I have social anxiety so this was a major step for me. I always had one good friend in my life that I could always count on, but to reach out to others beyond that was sort of exhausting to me. I thought it had something to do with my anxiety. It was hard at first making new friends and at times I felt like I wanted to give up. Why was I doing this to myself? Did I need friends to practice yoga? Certainly not, but my heart spoke louder than my mind and I continued to reach out to others. Things started to change immensely about a month or so into my home yoga practice. Only I didn’t just practice at home. I had become so determined in my yoga, that I would spend somewhere between 4-8 hours a day practicing, all while working full time at a local hospital and caring for two children. If this seems a bit extreme, its because it was. I was practicing with every spare moment I had. This included during my lunch breaks at work, before the kids woke up in the morning and after the kids would go to sleep.

Although most people wouldn’t know where to begin when starting a home practice, I jumped straight into inversions and arm balances. I had no idea what I was doing. I was simply practicing based off tips I had received from my new friends and you tube videos from the internet. I also went to Instagram for most of my inspiration. Here there were thousands upon thousands of yogis willing to share their life journey with everyone while giving out advice and tips for an approach to a yoga pose that would seem almost impossible at first sight. How did I never come across yoga before? I had asked myself this repetitively. I thought yoga was this amazing gift that everyone should have access to. By the second month of my practice i was already getting comfortable with all inversions. My determination wouldn’t let me slow down. I felt so empowered yet I still didn’t know why. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or my mentality.
It wasn’t til I had reached about my fourth or fifth month into yoga did I start to incorporate basic yoga flows into my practice after joining a monthly local yoga gathering near my community. Before I knew it I was consumed. I started incorporating Acro Yoga while teaching my youngest son age 8 how to practice.
My outlook on life had started to change. I no longer felt like I was going through the motions anymore. I looked forward to everyday as an opportunity to try new things and connect with myself while learning a new talent. I hadn’t yet discovered meditation or even knew what a real Savasana felt like until I started taking a few yoga classes whenever my pocket book would allow me. Raising two children as a single mother wasn’t easy and didn’t allow much room for extra spending on activities for fun. When I finally started to practice meditation, I was blown away! I had always suspected as a younger child that people who practiced this activity were kind of strange because I didn’t know the benefits or the point. I was also raised as a church goer and led to believe that this sort of practice might open the doors to some unwanted spirits or demons. This is still a common belief among some religious practitioners of various religions.

I am almost a year and half into my yoga practice now. So many things in my life have changed but for the better. I no longer have a poor relationship with food which was a huge game changer for me. I was always so tired and felt drained which I had thought to originate only from the depression but have recently discovered that my poor food choices weren’t helping give me the energy needed to sustain all of my daily activities of living. I also no longer feel the pressure to live to what I considered society standards of buying a home and getting married although I do already have a family of my own. In fact my plans have completely changed! I am currently in school learning to be a yoga teacher. Upon graduation I will receive my 200 hour Yoga Teacher certification. I intend to achieve my 500 hour certification upon completion of the previous course. I’d like to travel a bit when my children become older and maybe connect with other yogis around the world while getting hands on instruction from some incredible people I have met though social media while on this journey! I want to inspire others the way I too was inspired. I still wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have access to yoga whether they can afford it or not. I intend to pay it forward by taking others under my wing and investing in them the way others had in me when I first discovered yoga.
What inspired your practice?