“I got into yoga in 2013 – very untraditionally. I was studying abroad in New Zealand and wanted an exercise I could do in my apartment. I ran across DDP yoga, which is a program created by a professional wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page. Looking back on it, DDP is truly, a one-of-a-kind experience, which awakened me to the world of yoga…and I’ve never looked back!
After New Zealand, I came back to the states, pursued a yoga class in college where I taught for the first time, and then ended up moving to Long Island for a graduate program. Originally, I had applied for a PHD program that, painfully, I didn’t get into, and the Masters was an alternate route to get to my end goal. Pursuing this degree ended up being a really difficult point in my life. It wasn’t what I wanted, or what I planned, and I didn’t like that.
Even though I met people, and had welcoming and cordial roommates, I still felt completely isolated. I still felt so alone. But, this is the point when I truly discovered yoga. I discovered solace in my practice and in creating my own routine. For the most part, these first few years were by myself, which was okay. It was what I needed and became the avenue for me to connect with myself, and ultimately others. I found such friendship in the extended yoga community through posts on social media from friends back home who also practiced. I began feeling a lot less alone.
I moved back to Upstate NY and reapplied to the PHD program. I still didn’t get in. At that point, I had such mixed emotions about being back and living with my parents. For the first time in my life I felt like I had no purpose.
A decision for the next step was made when I applied to the RYT 200-hour program at my local studio (Yoga Body Shop) to give myself something to work towards. I was nervous not only because it was a big step to take, but because at that point, I’d never done Baptiste-style yoga before. In the very beginning I thought, ‘I should not be here. I have no idea what I’m doing. Everyone else has been practicing for way longer than I have.’ I made it to the second weekend where the instructors put us through the ringer; it was a 3-hour practice. I remember my legs shaking so badly; even in the easiest of poses. I didn’t give up, and made it through.
I knew how huge of a turning point that practice was and I knew right then and there that I could do this. I could do anything. I was 100% invested.
Before yoga, I felt like I had to get everything right, all of the time. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and it consumed me. My desire to be perfect led me down the path to an eating disorder, which I struggled with all of my teenage years. This issue started to surface both in my practice and in my teaching. Because I wanted to get things right so badly, and do everything the correct way, I would end up hurting myself in certain poses. I couldn’t teach the ‘right way’ because I was so focused on having a “perfect class”.
Throughout the program, I realized that others faced similar challenges that I did. I don’t feel alone anymore. I learned to let those things go: the negative self talk, the control, the obsession with getting things right. I learned to just be myself. Now that I am able to allow myself to live this way, it feels totally amazing.
The Teacher Training taught me that all of us have things that we go through that nobody knows about. Even if we haven’t all gone through the same things, we’ve all gone through something.
(Eight months later:)
So much has changed for me since my phone call and photo shoot with Jen. Actually reading through my own words almost felt like I was reading through an old book. The story I knew well. It’s familiar and comforting, but I’ve ventured off on an entirely knew chapter.
Since last summer I started my PhD, left a relationship and entered a new one, gained numerous friends I can’t imagine my life without, started a health and wellness business with Juice Plus+, stopped teaching, and learned countless lessons along the way.
Each moment of this year has taught me that growth doesn’t stop when you leave the studio or classroom. Find the people, places, and passions that move you to something greater and let go of what’s holding you back. So much is possible if you start there.
Right after Jen and I talked, I started a website for my poetry and there too I can see how much my lens has shifted in such a short amount of time. If you’d like to hold my hand on this journey of growth and discovery, follow @themeditativemillennial ✨🕉 ”
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