Everyone has a yoga origin story. The elements of your story likely comprise more than your first yoga class. Often, it will take years for you to craft your story. It takes time to see how seemingly disparate forces coalesce into something much bigger and more transformative then you could ever imagine.
Writing your yoga origin story helps you connect with why you practice yoga on a deeper, more spiritual level.
Consider the challenges and pain points you’ve overcome or are trying to overcome since starting your yoga practice when writing your own yoga origin story. I hope you take some time today, tomorrow, or on your next day off to contemplate how yoga helps you live a better life.
In the meantime, here’s my story:
My yoga origin story
The first time I remember it happening was when I broke my femur. Yep, I managed to break the hardest bone to break in your body — I skied into a tree. After a ski patrol ride down the “mountain,” my leg was taped to a cardboard brace to hinder movement until I could get to the hospital. Soon after, my whole body started shaking uncontrollably. The uncontrollable shaking caused my leg to move around when it wasn’t supposed to and it hurt. But I couldn’t stop it. This is the first time I distinctly remember losing all control of my body. It was also my first taste of a panic attack and I was 14.
As I grew up the panic returned often, most notably when I was feeling ill or was around someone else who was. I suffered from an extreme phobia of throwing up, not surprisingly because it represents a total loss of bodily control. You know how some people like to throw up to feel better and others fight it until the end? I’m one of the fighters. I’ll let my body shake uncontrollably for what seems like hours to avoid the experience. In some strange way I’ve normalized the shaking of the panic attacks to the point where that is more preferable to the unpleasantness of throwing up.
My experiences of panic attacks were intense. It was my first physical sign of misalignment.
The misalignment of my soul
College was an interesting time for me because a lot of people throw up in college. I avoided parties like the plague and buried myself in schoolwork instead. Always an overachiever, I got involved with various activities so I would have somewhere to go on a Friday night. My overachievement, naturally, caused a lot of stress. I turned to yoga to help calm me down and keep me in shape.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer when I grow up. As I was getting ready to apply to college it was evident (for some reason) that I couldn’t just graduate from college and be a “writer” so I chose to pursue journalism instead. I soon found out the stressful lifestyle of a journalist wasn’t something I cared for, and refocused my energy toward the stressful lifestyle enjoyed by those in the public relations/advertising/marketing industry instead. This was my second sign of misalignment, this time from a deep subconscious level. By not allowing myself to follow my dreams, I was selecting career fields that I thought were appropriate for success in the real world. I wasn’t taking into account what I really wanted to do.
I had the pleasure of graduating from college in an extremely poor job market. For some reason I had convinced myself that I would be an epic failure if I didn’t find a job before graduation. I went on tons of informational interviews while also working 10-20 hours a week, performing the duties of President of a co-ed Honors Fraternity, and carrying a full course load, including the hardest class I’ve ever taken in my life (it was a PR class). Needless to say, my stress levels were out of control.
When yoga became more then a workout
One night, as I was going to sleep, I started to feel extreme pain in my left chest. It hurt to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack. After seeing 3 or 4 different doctors and undergoing every electrical heart health test known to man, I got my diagnosis: there was nothing wrong with me.
This “diagnosis” infuriated me because I was constantly in pain every time I laughed, every time I breathed — I couldn’t even practice yoga, the one thing I knew how to do that would calm me down. On my 21st birthday I went to the bar with my friends clutching my ribcage and reminding everyone not to make me laugh because I was in so much pain. There was definitely something wrong with me. But the people I had learned to trust — the doctors with the fancy degrees that were supposed to help me –could not. It wasn’t their fault. They did everything they knew how to do to help me. The help that I needed didn’t fall within their domain. I was woefully imbalanced from the depths of my soul and it became clear I had to heal my Self.
I got on my yoga mat anyway. I distinctly remember wincing in pain as I tried to power through my poses. It wasn’t working. Yoga taught me how to calm down, and then when breathing and movement couldn’t help me anymore, yoga taught me how to slow down and honor my body to give it the space it needed to heal. I showed up and did what I could. Sometimes I didn’t show up at the studio at all, but I got rid of things in my life that were causing too much stress. I got involved in the yoga community and found support. Incidentally, that solved my job problem, because I ended up getting a marketing job with the yoga studio. I started a cleanse program and dove into learning more about yoga philosophy and the yoga lifestyle. I changed my life and my pain went away without a single prescription medication.
The integration of yoga into my lifestyle
A few years later, a big decision loomed. My boyfriend of 6 years was starting some extensive military training in a small town in Texas and he wanted me to go with him. Leaving Boulder, CO, would mean leaving my job, my community, my studio and everything I knew — especially my lifestyle. But there was something inside me that knew I needed to go. Over the course of 3 years, we moved from Boulder to Texas to Arizona to Washington DC and yoga helped me gain control of my life when it seemed like everything was out of my control. It helped me stay consistent, stick to a routine, and have faith. It helped me find a supportive community no matter where I went. And it helped me find myself in the places where I least expected it (ahem, Wichita Falls, TX).
I started practicing yoga to stay in shape and release some stress. What I learned was how to love my life. How to have faith. How to find your community of people who support you and love you unconditionally. How to get back control.
If it weren’t for yoga, I’d still be hopelessly in pain.
Today, it is my mission to help overachievers like me gain back control of their lives, live pain-free, and love the life they want to live through yoga lifestyle practices.
Let me help you consciously create your own inspired life with the wisdom of yoga!