The Yin to my Yang

Jenny Glo, 127

A story on how yoga can put meaning back into life.

There are 100s of articles out there telling people how to better love themselves. They all go something like, set a goal and reach it, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend don’t say it to yourself, spend a day pampering yourself, don’t read beauty magazines for too long. While all of this is true, it takes getting to know yourself and acceptance to remedy the self-doubt we all face from time to time.

Yoga, for me didn’t start off as a soul searching, eye-opening experience. I, a newly relocated 23 year old dancer with very few friends and a lot of free time, joined a gym, with the hopes to find friends, dance and to stay in shape. Instead, I found yoga. Yoga and I have been on a roller coaster journey; a few heart wrenching break ups, a high stress-low reward career, and some bad life choices. When I found myself at the lowest of lows, unemployed, single and carless, feeling broken in every way, it was yoga that helped me put the pieces back together to feel whole again.

I started off a rock star yogi, or at least I thought. I jumped right in, advanced yoga, updog-downdog split- chair- twist- headstand… With every pose I would check out the people around me, is she doing it better, I have to win! Competition is in my blood, I was quickly turning this new exercise class into a tennis match in my head, Yogi Barbie to my right is in a bind, (one point  yogi Barbie) *note to self, learn that bind* forward bound angle (one point Jenny).  Back and forth the points would go, until we would get to the end, the lights would go out and everyone was still, well almost everyone, stillness wasn’t a thing I had ever been good at. Every match my opponent would lay in complete stillness, while I laid there waiting impatiently for light to come back on. I was clearly missing the point of what yoga was all about.

My competitive nature wouldn’t allow me to give up, to let Miss. Thang have the victory. So I kept going to classes, and little by little I started to focus my attention inward. I started to understand how your body moves in connection with your breath, how deep exhales lets go of things your hold on to that you no longer need. After a while (a long, long while) I no longer noticed Yogi Barbie, I was no longer keeping scores, or pushing myself into something I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for.

Yoga and I have had that on and off again relationship. I’d be disciplined in my practice for a few months, find something (typically someone) that peaked my interest and my practice would fall to the wayside. The longer away from my mat the more my life would turn into a state of chaos. After over a year away from yoga, a series of bad decisions, unfortunate events and pure bad luck I hit what can only be described as rock bottom. 

So there I was, at rock bottom, feeling broken and alone and the one thing I could only think to do was to get back on my mat. To get back in touch with myself, to see where I went astray and put the pieces back together, one breath at a time. With every inhale I would bring in light, power and life and with every exhale I let out the negative words and feelings I held onto towards myself. The past that could not be changed with the idea that the future was set in stone. The more time I spent on my mat the more internal strength I found. The stillness that once was so hard for me to achieve became my source of energy to carry forward.

Yoga re-introduced me with myself and with the idea that I have the power to control who I am and where I am going. I no longer aimlessly wander through each day, and while the ups and downs still come, I know returning to my mat keeps me strong.

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