I’ve put off writing this story for a long time. When Nikki asked me way back when the studio opened, I thought, no way- I don’t want anyone to know this side of me- it feels dark (it’s really not that bad), but I’m not this person anymore. Through, practice, patience, and the support of a strong community at Yoga Squared, I feel like I am in a place where I can share a little piece of me with people I truly call family.
If you’ve seen me around the studio, teaching or taking class, I’m probably smiling (or upside down). I haven’t always been so happy, though. Growing up I had a great, privileged life (thanks mom & dad!), but I looking back I can’t really say I was always a nice person. I dealt with a lot of anger problems over the years, and not knowing how to deal with overactive and angry emotions. I would flip from being normal to raging in seconds. It was always just me immediately reacting to anything and everything in an almost hostile way. Basically, I had no chill.
I tried to use working out as a means to let off some of that energy but it only resulted in hyping me up to new levels of crazy. One day my fitness instructor started adding yoga stretches into our workout, and right then and there, a teeny little shift started.
Now, I had tried yoga all of one time in college, and immediately dismissed it as boring (can someone direct me to the spin class, please?). A few years later, when I was about 26 or 27, I stepped into my first Hot Power class and my whole life changed (forever grateful to Lisa E). I found something that satisfied my desire to feel strong, but there was this subtle shift going on under the surface that I wasn’t even aware of until a couple years later.
I started diving in to yoga, or, at the time, what I thought was yoga, online. I started an instagram and found some really inspiring people doing cool yoga poses, and I knew I wanted to learn them all. I was pretty good at doing these poses, and started stringing them together in different flows and sharing my struggles, that I guess some people liked to see. I thought I was doing yoga. For years, this was all I knew. I had a strong community of men and women who were all supporting each other out there, and we were all just “throwin shapes,” on the internet, and slapping #yoga all over it. Little did I know how much more to yoga there was…
After two years, and a ton of encouragement, I decided to become a certified teacher and go through my YTT. Somewhere along the way, I was starting to finally think like a real yogi. I met some of the most amazing people in my class (including our very own Nikki Woodford-Shell & Serenity Messner), who to this day inspire me to be better, whether they realize it or not. I came to the realization that yoga is not about twisting and bending and making pretty shapes or cool flows for the world to see, but that it actually made me feel like a human being. I’m not one to share a lot feelings, but I promise, I do feel them at times (like right now as I’m tearing up writing this and truly realizing what this practice has done for me).
As someone who has always been a little odd, and never been a true empath, feeling like I understand people on a real level has been life changing for me. I feel like I can actually connect with people, instead of just try to make them laugh and use sarcasm as a way to dosge feelings (though, I still try to do that, too). I’ve always been an optimist, but optimism can be difficult when you feel like you operate on a completely different level than everyone else around you. I think this is what stemmed a lot of my anger - being so satisfied with everything that I just couldn’t see why anyone could be unhappy about anything, ever. Why were people choosing to live such miserable lives when they could just BE HAPPY?! Ah, I had so much to learn. I’m still learning.
This journey I started led me through some difficult times, including a very recent divorce. It can be really challenging to realize you’re on a path that you never intended to be on, and you know the only way to redirect is to make some very tough decisions. I distinctly remember one night in Kate’s power class - I felt like her message was directed right at me. It hit me like an oncoming train. It was the first -and only- time I cried in a yoga class.
Yoga has made me feel like I’m truly connected to the people around me. Meditation brings me clarity. The community gives me support and friendship. The dedication to the practice continues to help me believe in myself enough to make decisions that allow me to live my best and most authentic life (even if it’s not always pretty!). I am forever grateful for yoga, and especially, Yoga Squared. <3
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” -Albus Dumbledore (you know I couldn’t leave you without at least one Harry Potter reference :) )