“Sit still. Be quiet. Calm down. Don’t think so much. You’re too loud. You’re too much of this, not enough of that. Relax.” Growing up, I heard things like this all the time. I felt like I was never okay just the way I was. I was always striving to be perfect in the eyes of others. I was always trying to NOT hear these things said to me. As I got older, it got harder to be perfect. I was unhappy with myself and wondered why I couldn’t be more of this or less of that. At the age of 13 I had enough of being uncomfortable in my own skin and picked up my first drink. What started as teenage fun quickly spiraled into a drinking and drug addiction. There was something I would take to make me feel smarter. Something to make me more talkative. Something to calm me down. Another thing to put me to sleep. I was in total control of how I was on any given day…until they stopped working. I was right back to where I had started: uneasy, uncomfortable, not enough, sick, tired, and weak. I was in poor health and staring death in the face. I woke up one night on May 20th, 2015 and told myself I couldn’t live like this anymore. I got sober that night.
I remember my first yoga class. It had actually happened when I was 10 years old. My grandmother had signed me up through the YMCA to help me “calm down.” My friends all joined. It was not taken seriously. It never stuck. But, time and time again throughout high school, I would find myself always poking back into a yoga class. I liked the relief it gave me. Still, it never stuck.
Getting clean and sober, fitness played a huge part in my recovery. I wanted to get healthy again. I wanted to become the best version of myself possible. Once again, setting high expectations. I ran, used weights, boxed, went to spin classes and again, would pop into a yoga class on occasion. Granted, I got into the best shape of my life but still something was missing. I could never just breathe. I couldn’t sit still with myself. I was always running (literally) from one tough workout to the next. Always pushing myself to do more, go harder, be stronger, lift heavier, run faster. The same patterns repeated.
Fast forward to 2 years sober in January of 2017 when I was taking a yoga, meditation and stress management course as an elective for school. We were reading a book about the history of yoga and meditating before class. I started to learn how much more yoga was besides the poses in class. Yoga is a way to live. At this point I really wanted to live yoga and do yoga. My body was aching all the time, my muscles were fatigued and I needed something lower impact. I found a cute little studio up the street from my house and started going regularly. I remember leaving and being able to actually breathe. I felt lighter and present in my own life. I remember my teacher saying to me, “Just know you are perfect exactly how you are in this moment.” And everything clicked. I took my practice into my life. I started to LIVE yoga.
I took my practice everywhere. At home, in the car, in class, at work. I breathed and put myself into the moment. I would go to class and get an escape because each time I would learn something new about myself. I was actually PRACTICING something. By breathing and becoming present I made myself teachable and more open to what I am capable of. I believe the most important thing I took away from yoga is that I am allowed to be whatever I am on that given day. If all I can do is lay on my back and breath for half of the class or even an entire class, there is no one yelling at me to get up. No one is telling me to work harder, to push through, to do more or be better. The practice for me is about learning to accept myself on any given day, under any circumstances. It is a process. Some days it is hard and others it is easy. What I like about it the most is that yoga is a life long practice and I do not have to figure it out all at once. With each class, with each breath, I learn a little bit more.
And right now, for once in my life, that is finally enough. I, am finally enough.