Building Yourself Up Through Yoga, Posture by Posture
I come off as a strong woman and a person who is put together. Many may be surprised to learn that I have PTSD stemming from rape and physical abuse. Yoga helps me deal with my triggers, memories, anxieties, and shame. How I present myself to others is largely possible because of what I've learned about myself through practicing yoga.
I never thought yoga would benefit me mentally and emotionally. I never imagined that sitting still, mindfully moving my body, and focused breathing could help me when my mind is racing and I’m reliving my trauma. On some days, being able to get out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other is because of the confidence yoga gives me every time I step off my mat.
I didn't start Yoga 4 Change because I thought yoga could end world hunger or bring world peace (Side note: to anyone in that pursuit, keep up what you're doing. Your cause is valid and requires a lot of brilliant, creative minds and dedication. The solution is out there and we as a global population must innovate and pivot based on both the constraints and resources of modern society). I started Yoga 4 Change to empower young women who have suffered years of mental and emotional abuse. I started Yoga 4 Change to remind these woman that no matter who they have been hurt by or who they themselves have hurt, no matter what mistakes they have made, and no matter what substances they took to numb the pain, they are good enough and they can choose a different outcome. I started Yoga 4 Change because I myself needed those very same reminders. While world peace may not be one of our long-term goals, peace with oneself certainly is.
To others who live with reminders of past trauma, yoga CAN help you learn to feel comfortable in your own skin and be okay with who you are. I invite you to move your body with us and focus on your breath with intent. Change doesn't happen instantly, but in time, you will start to notice a difference. How can I be so confident? I know this because I am living proof.
When I practice yoga, I am not focused on everything that happened. I am not worried about being frozen in fear or scared of my constant physical pain. When I practice yoga, I am not worried about every task I have yet to accomplish, every email that awaits me in my inbox, or calls I still need to return. Yoga builds me up, posture by posture, and teaches me how to fall and get up. And this lesson, falling and not giving up, is what we teach our students.
Our program allows individuals struggling with PTSD to confront many of their demons in a positive, evidence based way. We teach our students that their traumas do not need to define them and that they can choose to take off all their masks and be authentic to whatever they are feeling or experiencing. PTSD does not need to be the defining characteristic of someone’s existence.
Yoga has allowed me to live with my PTSD, with my traumas, and with my faults. It allows me to see life fresh after each practice and keeps my life in perspective. I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach this practice to those who need it most and I am inspired by the grit that our students demonstrate.
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