Yoga is saving my life. I realize this sounds over-dramatic; but that doesn’t make it any less true. Before yoga came into my life I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I took antidepressants to get through the day and sleep medication to get through the night. Thanks to yoga, I don’t need those things anymore.
I came to yoga for the first time after reading an article in The Oregonian about the Yoga for the Larger Woman class. Before then I would never have set foot in one of those classes. They were for young, skinny, very flexible people dressed out in skimpy clothes. Fat, middle-aged me exercising next to them? Not going to happen. But that was not the only barrier to yoga I faced. I am the mother of four daughters, one of whom has multiple disabilities. I am her primary caretaker every day; and her home-school teacher too. For the last ten years that has been my life, together with caring for the rest of my family. And I lived in a constant state of exhaustion and guilt that I was never doing enough. Certainly I didn’t devote any time to thinking about what I could or should be doing to better take care of myself—until I read that article.
So I went to my first Yoga for the Larger Woman class, resolved to turn off my phone and just be there. That was terrifying in itself. What if something happened and I couldn’t be reached? Letting that go was an important step in my journey to a healthier, more balanced way of being.
Once the phone issue was dealt with, I gave myself over to experiencing the yoga. And with Vilma’s gentle guidance I was actually able to begin to relax. I stretched and twisted and moved—and relaxed even more. It was amazing. No judgment, no pushing, no pain, no fear. Just calm acceptance, appropriate challenge, and peace.
Now I go to class every Sunday knowing that my family does just fine without me for a couple hours, and that I am going to leave class lighter in spirit and stronger in body. I love every minute of it. Thanks to my yoga practice sleep is once again something to look forward to. The panic attacks and anxiety I suffered for years are decreasing because I am learning how to relax my body and quiet my mind. Before yoga, I felt like my body was my enemy, something separate from me that I just had to live with and drag around. Now I am learning to live in the body I have, and to love it, flaws and all. I used to wonder how many years of my life were draining away due to unrelenting stress. Now I wonder how many years I am adding through the peace and joy I find in my practice.
I am proud of myself for moving past my fears, fears of being not good enough, fears of not being always in control. That negative thinking is slowly giving way to a more hopeful and optimistic outlook on life, my life with all the difficulties that it still has. In showing me that more is possible than I was allowing myself to believe, yoga has saved my life.
- Lisa C.