From Asana to Pranayama

Embarking on a journey of personal growth and development can be a daunting endeavor. Throw in connecting your body to your breath, your mind to your soul, and your heart to your career aspirations — well that sounds ideal, but boy is it difficult! Yoga teacher training has been taking me on an emotional and physical whirlwind of a ride, but the payoff has been grand and riveting.

Yoga is bringing me a gift this Christmas, and it is one of sharing the reasons the practice has helped me overcome obstacles in life with others who can benefit from it.

Beginning in November, I applied to a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification program after leaving a full-time marketing job with far too many responsibilities for one woman and way too much aggravation from an aggressive boss. My head told me to run away from the work I would have to do with my body in intensive yoga practice, but my heart wanted nothing more than to escape the grind of clocking in and clocking out of an office role where I was confined to my desk. And to my surprise, the program has been so much more than contorting my body into poses I used to think were unattainable — it has been a well rounded philosophical education for my thirsty spirit.

Ohm…My God, I Have to Do WHAT?

I have been practicing yoga since I was a teenager, and mind you, the body I had in high school and college was a bit more forgiving of the asanas (poses) I was able to come into and hold. As luck would have it, after the age of 20 I would be on a lifelong regimen of medication and several pounds heavier than I was used to having on my body. This is a stigma that often steers people away from practicing yoga — there is a commercial mold women and men feel they must fit into if they want to be the spitting image of a yogi. It could not be further from the truth of yoga! And in training to teach, I am learning that my body and mind can connect into poses that I was afraid to work on when I was in my so-called prime years. There is no right or wrong in yoga. Remove the judgement and you can reach some amazing goals!

Finding Pranayama When I Spent Life Holding My Breath

Post-traumatic stress disorder left me wanting to hide from life. I would — and often, still do — jump at the smallest noises and resist being touched or hugged. Yoga is a way for me to give my mind that nurturing hug I crave so badly in spite of my fears. Anxiety has had me holding my breath for over a decade. With pranayama practice, I am listening to my breath in a gentle way that leaves me feeling a natural high. I feel safe in my body again. It is not always perfect, but the purpose of perfection is to continue progressing, not to ever actually reach it!

Do Positive Things That Scare You, and Your Life Will Flourish

As I go through yoga teacher training, I am finding myself feeling emotional releases I have never before experienced. In a restorative pose just a couple of weeks ago, I reached an epiphany about childhood stress that initiated a weepy “cry fest” and closure with the help and support of my family. That release has been building a momentum in myself that I rarely ever reach. It has been difficult to maintain consistency in the things that I value and are important to my growth and happiness. Yoga is keeping me motivated and positive which can be difficult for those of us with depression. It has been stabilizing my bipolar type I mood swings, as well as pushed me to communicate those episodes before they fly off into a psychotic break. I have felt grounded and capable in this new chapter of my life.

Namaste With It!

As I follow through with my practice and do my best with the cards life has dealt me, I invite you to keep going with the things that matter to you and to continue fighting for what you want in life, whatever your seemingly inhibiting circumstances may be. We all have moments in life that feel like the Earth just wants to stomp us out, and disability or not, we don’t have to let it! Challenge yourself in positive and healthy ways and you can reach any of the goals your heart dreams up. Stick with your motivations, don’t let anyone dull your shine.

Yoga is bringing me a gift this Christmas, and it is one of sharing the reasons the practice has helped me overcome obstacles in life with others who can benefit from it. It is so much more than what I had originally thought of it, and the lifelong learner in me feels blessed to be a part of giving it back. Karma is real after all, and the good that you put out into the Universe comes back to you with open arms.

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Joanna is an aligned vinyasa RYT-200 certified yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance. Joanna's mission is to bring the teaching of yoga to everybody in an accessible, welcoming and gentle way. Check out Joanna-Yoga.com for services, blogs and updates on all things yoga. Namaste.

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