For the past six months I’ve been asking, “Where does yoga need me the most?” When we ask for clarity, we receive it. When I first began teaching yoga, I took every opportunity to teach. I said yes to everyone who asked for yoga. I did this for a couple of reasons: I wanted teaching experience, but also I was afraid to say no. I thought if I didn’t take each opportunity, there wouldn’t be another. At the end of last year, I took time and space to assess which classes I had a passion for, and which ones I had less energy for. I didn’t judge myself. Some classes I thought I “should” be teaching, but if I was honest, I just wasn’t passionate about them. I accepted this.
As a result, my teaching schedule shifted, and with that shift there was a space in my schedule. But, more importantly there was space within me to get clear. The answer to, “where does yoga need me most?” was always there, but I was too busy to hear it.
At the end of last year, the Center for Spirituality and Healing contacted me regarding teaching yoga to women victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. I intuitively knew I this was something I wanted to be a part of. I love yoga for so many reasons, but what I value most is how much healing it has brought me. I came to yoga after a particularly difficult relationship. I left questioning myself, my thoughts, my ability to make good decisions. But, even worse than that, I was exhausted. I lacked energy for anything, and disliked myself. I couldn’t see a way out of the mental and emotional state I was in. I equally wanted help and healing, but as equally stumped as to what that would entail.
The five years prior I bought every yoga magazine I could get my hands on. I never once tried a single pose, never went to a class though. After that relationship, I had no energy to resist yoga. Even though I was a single mom, and my daughter was a toddler, something told me to spend the money and time on a class. I still remember that first class. I had the same resistance other people do: what do you wear? Am I going to be the only one who doesn’t know what they’re doing? What if people stare? Is this worth it? But, even with all the resistance, and “good reasons” why I shouldn’t have gone to yoga, I did. I stepped on the mat, and felt at peace. I felt like I didn’t have to hold it all in, all the emotions and all the pain. This both felt wonderful and vulnerable. And yet, I did what the teacher told me, breathe. I noticed how I often I would hold my breath. To breathe fully can feel vulnerable. I saw how short my breath was, and it was a way to control my emotions, to keep them at bay.
The healing didn’t happen overnight, but rather it was a long and steady process. It really has been pose by pose, breath by breath. “Where does yoga need me the most?” I think about others like me, who’ve been in a situation where they felt disempowered. I think how fortunate I am to have yoga in my life, how it’s given me myself back. That I’m able to share what I love the most, and to know my life experiences, and the tools I have can help others heal too… I feel blessed.
When we practice yoga, we heal not only ourselves, but we boldly and lovingly extend this healing to everyone around us. It just happens!