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Finding Refuge in Yoga

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

I found yoga in1997, my life looked perfectly fine from the outside, job, a loving family, but inside I was truly dying, an empty soul that so longed for balance and stability. (Soul sick people don't always look like sick people). I stumbled upon that first yoga class fueled by an eating disorder with a desire to have a body like Madonna's. In addition to the eating disorder, I was also coming from a background of severe drug addiction, anxiety and panic attacks. Untangling myself from the grip of addiction seemed impossible, but a weekly yoga practice began to lift me to higher states. Although, my entry point for the profound shift that has taken place within me was through several treatment centers, the missing link was a consistent yoga and meditation practice.

Fast forward to 2020, I attended a virtual yoga class this week that felt like it saved me, literally. The year of lockdown and political upheaval had me at wits end. It’s why I go, most of the time. To be rescued, either from myself or to find a way back to my center. Sometimes I go because I feel tight and stressed, I need to move my body and shake some things off, to quiet the chatter, get back to my center. Sometimes I just go to sweat. Sometimes I go to find stillness. But I’ve learned that when I am particularly feeling off-center when my edges feel frayed when I start to get abrupt with everyone, when I lose any and all perspective so much that I weep thinking there may not be enough coffee, I go to yoga to fix myself. And when I am within my practice, I am reminded I don't need fixing. I am perfectly imperfect just the way I am. I am beyond thankful.

Yoga is a collection of techniques and movements that lead to enhancing attitudes and a sense of well being. The practice incorporates postures breathing control and other methods in meditation to promote physical strength healing and spirituality. These days it's difficult to find any healing facility that doesn't offer some form of yoga or mind-body awareness. Addiction, stress and anxiety take a person out of their body and prevents them from connecting to what they are physically and feeling what their body is telling them. Some teach meditation, which helps you to sit quietly and calm the body-mind with the breath, and experience feelings of peace and comfort. Other classes can teach a series of yoga postures that are simple enough for people who have never done yoga. The goal is to give people the skills they need in order to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings and sensations that lead to the negative narrative.

Many people don't understand how to navigate and master the fearful racing thoughts. In some instances during yoga practice, we can find refuge and in some instances we can find relief from feeling like a prisoner in our own thoughts. Because of the biological changes in individual brains, motivation priorities are distorted. Attuning to bodily based cues through active modalities such as yoga can go a long way to help people begin to be more mindful in their responses. As someone healing from stress and anxiety, yoga is very effective at regulating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. An Imbalance of these hormones has been associated with anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as substance abuse. It's truly biochemical in some cases, like mine!

But, the real purpose of yoga is, not to have a nicer ass or be really bendy...The real purpose of yoga is to remember. Who we are is timeless and perfect and whole already!



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