I discovered yoga during my first pregnancy in 2003 as alternative to stay active. With motherhood, unnecessary and extreme self-sacrifice and neglect ensued. I was pursuing the almighty “American Dream”. This pursuit resulted in me taking on way too much: working full time, studying for my Master’s program, raising two toddlers, marital strain due to military tour of duty and toxic/codependent friendships which led to a breakdown in 2010. In desperation, I visited many physicians and psychologists to treat my physical ailments, which resulted in prescriptions of a variety of anti-depressants. This only led to an even deeper depression, other addictions, self-destruction and suicidal thoughts. After several unsuccessful attempts of altering meds and dosages, I decided to turn away from the meds and conventional medicine/therapy all together and seek out alternative medicine, starting with returning to yoga. I felt immediate relief after regular hot yoga practice. I was feeling better than I had felt in years with the combination of dietary changes/supplements, acupuncture and yoga. This worked for a few years but it wasn’t sustainable. There was a missing piece to the puzzle, unresolved issues lingering in the background, I was in denial of my low self-esteem which left the door open to toxic relationships and self-destruction.
Leading up to registering for Evolutions Immersion program my yoga practice had deteriorated to spotty to say the least. I would find myself practicing at various studios around the city on and off, falling away from my practice for months on end. When I first saw the program being offered I immediately felt a draw. At that point, it had been almost a year since I practiced on any regular basis and it was taking its toll. I saw this as an opportunity to kick start my practice, but little I did I realize it would turn into much more than I could have ever imagined.
Coming back to Jenni and Ross’s studio, I felt like a runaway troubled teen returning home. It was comforting but very humbling. The first few weeks of the program were very intimidating and overwhelming. My ego was on high alert and my inner “bully” was finding any way to beat me down. I felt like an outsider, yoga phony and a failure.
I believe it was the observations that really opened the flood gates in my brain. All those years of practicing, I was in my own head, I missed so much, just mindlessly making shapes with my body. The observations provided the perspective I needed to finally see with my eyes what the heck was going on physically. Jenni’s weekly immersion asana/anatomy breakdowns were also instrumental in me finally feeling in my own body the tiny intricacies of each foundational posture and the multi-faceted purpose each serves. Those breakdowns will carry with me for the rest of my life. Each time I step on my mat now, flowing through each posture, I have a little alignment/biomechanics checklist firing off. My body has changed so much since August.
The weekly immersion lectures were mind blowing and life changing, to say the least. Ross and Jenni’s explanation of the ancient texts, science, philosophy and breath work was probably the most psychologically/emotionally impactful part for me personally. Every week I would come home and just process for days each and every lecture. I went through some serious self-reflection and begin slowly living and feeling the niyamas. I finally discovered compassion for myself and the world around me. The breath work alone has allowed me to finally slow everything down naturally without substances and truly experience the elusive “mindfulness”. The program they developed beautifully weaved all of the ancient philosophy into a comprehensive and clear format. I am and will continue to unpack the mass amounts of knowledge they shared, and will be eternally grateful.
When I signed up originally for the E200 path I really had no intention of teaching. I’ve had so much fear and anxiety with public speaking my entire life and I really didn’t think I’d be nearly good enough to teach at any studio. At the Backyard blank slate gathering, I was mentioned as a possible future teacher… that was my “Oh Shit!” moment. I had thrown this idea out into the universe and it coming full blast right back at me. It came down to the fact that I needed to get over myself/my ego, truly let go and start living the yamas. The Sutras really provided a clear framework to follow to my best ability. Once I realized this wasn’t about me and serving my teachers and my community was where the focus really belongs, my anxiety and fear slowly lifted and a sense of peace arrived. With this mindset, stepping on my mat in front of a room full of people seems less and less intimidating week by week. And guess what, my self-esteem and confidence has never been better, really my whole entire life.
So to wrap up this long winded reflection, lol. Thank you Jenni and Ross, thank you my fellow immersion mates, thank you for this amazing and invaluable experience. It has positively impacted my life on so many levels, my husband thanks you, my kids thank you, my coworkers, everyone I have contact with on a daily basis thanks you! I still have a long road ahead of me, but what’s different now is I’m actually grateful for every moment along that path, which in turn will make this physical world a better place.
“Be the Change You Wish to See in the World”, right?