Four years ago, a coworker convinced me to go to a yoga class at Laughing Lotus. I work with animals in a highly emotional and stressful career and she said yoga would help me cope with that stress. I was developing a drinking problem as a way to deal with the sadness I saw at work, such as abuse cases or physical traumas. Animals are very important to me and it is hard to go back to a happy normal life when my shift is over. My first yoga class gave me the hope that there was another way I could cope with that stress. For the first time in years, my mind was quiet. Yoga was teaching me to breathe and focus on the present. Kim once told us it takes five breathes for your body to have a physiological change. I thought of that daily and found myself frequently taking five long breaths. I had found a calm that continues to this day.
Instead of drinking immediately after work, I would wait until after yoga class because I knew I couldn’t show up intoxicated. Each class I took, I could feel the shift to not needing to drink as much. Yoga quickly became more therapeutic and important to me than alcohol. In reality, it was a lifesaver. It took three years of yoga practice, but finally last year I found myself having only a couple of social drinks on the weekends and not relying on alcohol. Today, four years into a yoga practice, because of what yoga taught me (to be present and breathe), I do not need to drink at all anymore.
Not only was my spirit changing, but my physical body as well. I was gaining both strength and flexibility I never thought I could have. Looking back at my beginner self, I am so grateful that I tried to “fly” every time an arm balance or inversion was demonstrated. I had (and still have) many falls and bruises, but it makes the flight even more spectacular. I have also learned patience from practice. If I had an injury, I thought I did not need to make any physical changes and should just push through the pain. When I injured my hamstring two years ago I let go of my ego and let Kim and Heidi teach me modifications for certain poses. It meant not going as deep and not being able to touch my nose to my knee, but it gave my body the time it needed to heal.
Humility, patience, and how to cope with stress. These are the most important lessons I learned from yoga. I thank Laughing Lotus and Evolve for teaching me to walk the path of my spirit, and to walk it in a Beauty way.