This article was originally published on the IRoc Yoga site on November 15, 2012. Please visit IRocYoga.com and see the wonderful on-line yoga community that is growing there! Enjoy!
One thing that I have learned going through a major mental health related crisis with my son, is that balance isn’t always easy to find. Never knowing what would come next, during the crisis, whether we were in the hospital, out-patient or on our own, very quickly had negative impact on my body, mind and soul. I was looking for something to help me find grounding and that is when I rediscovered yoga.
It may seem apparent to many that yoga, breathing, meditation and the like would be immediately beneficial to someone in my situation. However, in the midst of a crisis, it is not always easy to see what is right in front of your face. I spent months on the couch or in bed with the covers pulled high over my head. Every time the phone rang, my heart dropped into my shoes, every night near bedtime my anxiety heightened to detrimental levels. Remembering to breathe was honestly the farthest thing from my mind.
I knew that I needed to do something because I couldn’t eat, sleep or relax, but getting out of my own way proved a daunting task. Then one day I was told about a 40 day challenge at a new yoga studio in town. I knew that this was a chance to find my way back to my yoga mat. It also became my opportunity to understand that once you are on your mat, you have a responsibility to bring yoga and the balance that it can provide home; not just home but out into the world.
The 40 day program required that I practice yoga six days per week and attend one workshop per week with the small group of other yogis that were in the program. This proved to be healing on so many levels, especially because for the first time in months, I had to turn off my phone. Initially, it caused me much panic and anxiety, but quickly it became a very freeing and empowering thing for me to do.
Even more importantly, I was learning to breathe again. To let go. To acknowledge the strength of my physical body and to recognize the endurance of my emotional and spiritual self. I found that when I left my yoga practice, I never truly left my mat. It was where I try to be as often as possible both physically and virtually. Bringing myself back to the feeling of my practice; at times picturing myself flowing through vinyasa, at other times laying in savasana. When I need to remember that I am strong and courageous, I see myself in crow pose or floating lizard. It’s all it takes to allow me to come back to my center.
One of my biggest lessons came last year when I attended a three day Baron Baptiste Foundations Workshop in Toronto, ON. After 2 1/2 days of pushing myself to my edge and beyond, I realized that I cannot be strong and fearless on my mat and then go home and believe that I am weak and scared. It was a profound recognition of how I needed to shift my belief and bring that same balance, centeredness, breath and courage home.
It is my daily intention to bring that balance home.
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