Yoga has changed my life, and continues to change my life every time I step onto my mat. I have the utmost gratitude, love, and respect for Yoga for allowing me to evolve into who I am today: and, to myself for doing the inner work it takes to evolve. Throughout my Yoga journey I have found the most valuable successor: how to fully and honestly love myself.
I began my relationship with Yoga a little over four years ago. After surviving a major emergency brain surgery at fourteen, which took a major toll on my mental and physical health, I felt that I had been stripped from the one thing that gave me hope during my younger years: competitive sports. I loved basketball and track and was sure that was going to be my ride through college, and be my out from my toxic household. But, the universe had greater plans for me. I can’t remember how many days and months I laid half alive in bed, wishing that my life would have ended with my sports career. I was living in misery in my home and in my body. My physical pain was getting worse and worse as the months went on, as was my household, I missed numerous days of school, and went to countless doctors appointments. No pain or depression medication was helping: my soul was longing for something deeper. Four years after my accident I had finally found Yoga, and I am forever grateful.
The beginning stages of my yoga practice were very emotional. I was releasing years of pain and trauma through sweat and tears, every single practice. My balance was terrible from my TBI and I felt that I would pass out anytime I went to a forward fold. My body was so used to stagnation, but the more I did it, the better I felt. I had no idea why yoga made me feel so euphoric. I had no idea that moving my body could benefit me in such a drastic way. I just knew that my headaches were slowly decreasing and I was able to feel and function like a “normal” person. I had taken yoga on a regular basis for about a year or so before I got the opportunity to go to a Yoga Teacher Training, and it was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do. I was a nineteen year old girl who was so used to self hatred and fear that I did not know there was a life outside of it. I had no confidence in myself. I truly believed that I would not be good enough to teach Yoga - let alone talk in front of people! The push to become a Yoga Instructor grew within me, and before I knew it I was beginning a sixteen day intensive Yoga Teacher Training at the Yoga Project in Fort Worth, Texas. I remember walking into training the first day and being so afraid of what was to come. We began with a few get-to-know each other exercises, and speech from the Yoga Teacher Trainer, Stacy, which instantly began to make feel more at peace with my presence in the space. I don’t remember *exactly* how the speech went, but it ended with, “Just know that each and every one of you are here for a reason, whether you end up teaching or not, you are meant to be here.” In that moment, everything changed for me. I found hope and purpose again.
Yoga Training was the best experience of my life. The amount of knowledge packed into just sixteen days was incredible: from body anatomy, asanas, pranayama, and learning the uniqueness of each body, I was taught everything I needed to in order to teach for the highest good. Every single day of training I learned to deepen and embrace self awareness, self compassion, and self remembering. I thought I was just going to learn to teach Yoga! I am unable to even describe the miracle of change that happened to me during those sixteen days. I came back a completely different person, full of life and passion. I lived my entire childhood hating myself and believed I deserved the terrible things that happened to me. To be able to overcome that kind of mindset and adversity is absolutely monumental. I have absolutely found my soul mission and purpose.
I am grateful. I am grateful for my brain injury. I am grateful for my younger self. I am grateful my ALL of my Yoga teachers. I am grateful for the knowledge of the teachers who have come before me. But, I am most grateful for myself. I am grateful that I learned how to love and heal myself with the help of Yoga. It has been, and continues to be, the best journey I have ever been on.
Gabrielle 200 E-RYT.