Yoga Saved My Life
Yoga saved my life
That’s right. I know it sounds strange. How could twisting yourself up into a human pretzel save your life?
But it’s true: yoga saved my life.
Just over 11 years ago, I gave birth to my second daughter. I was so in love with my first daughter and in being her mom that I couldn’t wait to do it again. I can still hear myself say in one of our mommy and daughter classes, “I had no idea you could feel this much joy on a daily basis.” So when my oldest was 2 years old, we had another.
I was in for a surprise. Everybody warned me how hard it would be, but like every other “newish” parent, I thought I was different. After all, I was a child psychologist. If anyone could handle it with grace and ease, it would be me.
The truth is, I was a mess. I was exhausted all the time and stressed out. Every day I ran around looking for my wallet, my keys, and my phone that I would lose the moment I set them down. My brain just wasn’t working like it used to. Then, when my daughter was 8 months old, I would find out that I had macular degeneration in my left eye.
For those of you who don’t know, macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness and almost never affects someone my age, I was 32 at the time, diagnosed on my birthday, in fact.
I was told to stop nursing immediately and that I would need chemical injections into my eye to stop the progression of the disease. I was told that the eyesight that I had lost might never be recovered. At the time, my eye sight was 20/200. Legal blindness is 20/200 in both eyes. I was halfway there.
Well, being the good little patient that I am, I scheduled my injections and then proceeded to nurse my daughter right up until I left the house for the first one.
If you thought the injections were bad, that was nothing compared to the pain that I caused myself by nursing a child for 8 months and then just stopping.
Oh My God!
I had no idea what happens to a women’s body when she stops nursing cold turkey. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say there was quite a bit of pain involved. My daughter was just fine, but I was in physical pain and caused a major hormonal reaction that left me in tears.
The good news is that thankfully the injections worked and most likely because of my age, my vision even recovered.
But perhaps because of the huge hormonal shifts I created or
Perhaps because of the stress of almost going blind or
Perhaps because of the stress of juggling a newborn and a toddler or
Perhaps because of the stress of a difficult marriage
Well, as a result of all of that, I became depressed, anxious, and dissatisfied with my life.
Here’s where yoga comes in. I had dabbled in yoga before. As a child and a teenager, I had been a serious ballerina, even taking classes with the Joffrey Ballet, so the movement of yoga always resonated with me.
I began to attend classes and practice at home. I noticed that during my yoga practice, I would become calm, centered, and grounded. I would be present to the moment and all my other worries would float away, if only for an hour. It was a slow process, but yoga gave me myself back. It was like returning to an old friend. In yoga, I was no longer someone’s mom or someone’s wife or someone’s psychologist; I was just the essence of me. Now, sometimes I would cry through an entire class, but that was what my body and soul needed.
Yoga gave me the ability to see who I really was, to uncover the parts of my life that truly weren’t working and to have the strength to take right action to create the life I wanted for myself and my children. That included some pretty difficult decisions. At the time, I was in a very difficult marriage which overflowed with criticism. Yoga allowed me to see this relationship for what it was and to uncover my strength, to let it go.
Because I had the strength to let it go, I found my true soulmate, my best friend, who loves and supports me and who brings out the best in me. My letting go of that relationship, it also allowed my ex-husband to look at himself and make the changes he needed to be a better father and a partner to someone else. It allowed us to mend our relationship and to be better parents to our children, even if it meant our being apart.
Yoga also helped me discover my belief that anxiety and depression are really a result of losing contact with one’s core self and living a life that is disconnected from that self. Yoga led me back to myself so that I could help others do the same.
While I love yoga and think it’s an amazing tool, I know it’s not for everyone. My goal is to help others find the tools that will reconnect them back to their core self, so that they too can create their best life, one that is congruent with their beliefs, values, and purpose.
We are all put on this earth to do something. It’s different for everyone. But you can’t know true fulfillment unless you connect with that purpose. And you can’t know your purpose without knowing the core of yourself. Yoga was the doorway for me. It saved my life.
What’s your Yoga?