I yoga because it saves me, and daily. Once upon a time, I was suicidal. I was depressed, anxious, and self-medicating with gusto. I was one bad decision from throwing my life away.
When I found yoga, I had moved a thousand miles away from what I thought were my problems. I was a few months clean of an opioid addiction and wanted a fresh start on an island in the Caribbean.
The hard truth was that my problems followed me. They lived inside my head, not in Minnesota, and I had to face them or be consumed.
The first struggle was learning how to breathe. I had nearly lost my life to a complication of pneumonia, and honestly believed I’d never be able to draw deep breath again. Day after day, I struggled to take three breaths for every one the teacher instructed. But, eventually, it only took two. And then I stopped struggling.
My breath took me to the place where truth lives: the darkest recess of my mind that I tried to lock away. I started to see the pain that suffocated me, that was trying to kill me. The abuse I’d suffered as a child, the abandonment – neglect – degradation – anger. I couldn’t look away. It rose up in my belly, seized my limbs.
And my body knew what to do with the pain, somehow. From my heart, out through my fingertips and into the earth, my pain smoothed out. In its place, I found a new deepest Me: a me that was at peace.
Every time the darkness crept in, I returned to my mat. I found my breath. My body moved until light, instead of pain, poured out.
My mat is my way home, to myself. And it doesn’t matter where I go, because the light follows me. Peace lives inside my head – heart – breath – body. I can’t escape it, and I wouldn’t want to.
Tonight, I share this light with a group of true beginners. People who have felt too much (or not enough) for yoga. I don’t know what they are looking for, but I do know what they will find: themselves.
At our core, we are creatures filled with light, ever at peace. The darkness is an illusion, and the breath is the revelation. Our bodies know what to do … all they need is space.
Yoga is so much more than movement. It is a path of forgiveness, of self and others, and an opportunity for transformation. Yoga is a way home.
I know, because it saved me.