As a young girl, I was always very active. I started out with ballet as a toddler which led to highland dancing as I got a bit older. From then on, I was involved in a variety of sports such as volleyball, soccer, and basketball. This kept me very busy as a child, if I wasn’t at school I was at practice or a game. My mother mentioned to me recently that when sports season was going on, I always did better in school.
I was actively playing sports until the second half of my freshman year in high school. I decided to stop playing because I was attending a brand-new school and there were a few older girls on the volleyball team that started to pick on me. I started feeling insecure and upset about the way I was being treated and I didn’t want to tell an adult because I thought that would backfire on me. I really didn’t look forward to going to volleyball practice so eventually, I stopped. That is when I decided I no longer wanted to continue playing sports. Because I decided to stop playing sports, my grades suffered. I started skipping class more and stopped doing my homework. I also started getting into a lot more trouble because I was hanging around the wrong crowd. Drugs and alcohol were heavily involved in my life all throughout high school and afterward. I know that if I had continued playing sports, my high school career would not have been nearly as toxic and unsuccessful as it was.
After high school, I continued to hang out with the wrong crowd and was inactive. And, I was also suffering from depression and anxiety. The only thing that (sometimes) made me feel better was when I was using drugs or alcohol. I forgot what it was like to experience a runner’s high or the lightness and euphoria after any sort of exercise or sporting event. At that point, I felt ashamed of the path I had taken and didn’t feel comfortable exercising or doing any type of physical activity. Maybe I was afraid of how out of shape I had gotten. One day my mom gave me a two-week free yoga pass to a studio down the street and encouraged me to go. It took a few weeks for me to attend a class, but I can vividly remember walking out of the studio after attending my first class, feeling calm and free. This was the first time in a long time I had felt so good, it is an experience I recall to this day. The mix of breathing, strengthening and stretching made me feel alive. This was my first experience practicing yoga and I immediately noticed its physical and psychological benefits.
As years passed, I slowly started practicing more and more yoga. I started going to more classes and I began incorporating mindfulness practices into my life as well. These practices involve meditation and breath work. I have noticed that the more I use mindfulness practices in my life, the less I suffer from anxiety and depression. When I include practicing yoga, which allows me to release energy and move my body, this helps my mental health as well. What a wonderful, healthy mixture of coping skills yoga and mindfulness brings. I have benefited so much physically and mentally that I decided I wanted to share this gift with others and decided to go through yoga teacher training, I am now a certified yoga instructor. It has been an amazing journey since I have found yoga and I will continue to practice and teach these skills to others in hopes of bringing them the same peace, health and happiness it has brought me.