We all have stress and chaos. We all have pieces of our past that we would like to forget. We all have parts of ourselves that we deem less than “ok.” These are our struggles. My struggles are no more than the next person’s and to an extent, just like everyone else, many of those struggles and stresses are out of my hands. My control lies in how I choose to struggle. Yoga has given me a better way, a better quality of life and a type of perspective that I feel I was always meant to see life from.
In my early 20’s and prior to yoga I was your average, hard-working, people pleasing, cram-as-many-things-as-you-can-in-to-one-day-as-possible-and-really-stress-yourself-out kind of gal. Many days, a doughnut and an energy drink would suffice as decent meal. I can remember BEING happy (although I wouldn’t say that it was an actual FEELING), but if one little thing, and I’m talking little, caused my schedule to get backed up, boy would the anxiety and frustration set in. Dialogue of “what a terrible day,” “if one more thing goes wrong…,” etc. would begin and my happiness would turn into anger over something so small and silly. And then motherhood happened and as it usually goes, those small and silly things that once stressed me out became much smaller and much sillier.
After my daughter was born, we found out she had multiple food allergies that could send her into anaphylactic shock. Learning how to keep her environment clean and nourish her without putting her in danger felt overwhelming. I started to become overly obsessed with cleaning, I felt panicked that she might come into contact with a peanut when I wasn’t around, I felt ashamed that I was so consumed with food allergies when other parents were watching their children face cancer and some friends couldn’t have babies of their own, I felt anxious that there wasn’t enough money and time to try all of the treatments I wanted to try on her. I felt angry that local doctors hadn’t seen an extreme case like hers and didn’t know how to help us. I felt fearful that I knew more about what were “safe foods” for her than our local nutritionists and that she was a failure to thrive baby. I literally felt like one of those cartoon characters that starts running from their nemesis but doesn’t go anywhere. I was being consumed by my struggles and I felt completely out of control.
One day, in the midst of all of this, I tried a yoga class. I hadn’t experienced peace like that in my entire life. I kept going back. Once a week, because it’s all I could afford. Each time I felt it. Peace. Each time I left there feeling strong. Not a physical type of strong per se, but an emotional type of strong. A strong that made me confident that I could care for my family. I knew I had to find a way to share this with other people.
Today I teach yoga because I know it empowers people. I know it puts quality into life. It clears out the excess junk and it helps to create this incredible place of peace internally. I still get stressed and over load my plate. I still experience anger, guilt, frustration, etc. Yoga has taught me that it’s ok to feel what I feel. I just try to be more conscious about feeling it and I don’t allow myself to run away with those feeling for too long.
Showing up to my mat 4-5 times a week gives me internal space to sort through that. Showing up to my mat over the years has also taught me that:
-It is an incredible and freeing feeling to begin the journey of self-acceptance and acceptance of others. There’s no right way to be a human.
-Stress and chaos will always exist, but I get to choose how I participate in it. I can’t control if my daughter comes into contact with a peanut or not, but I can take the necessary steps to protect her. Constant worry doesn’t protect her.
-My past is gone, but I can still create an amazing today and tomorrow.
-All parts of me are ok.
These are MY struggles. I allow myself to FEEL them and to own them without comparison to anyone else’s struggles (anyone else guilty of feeling that your struggles are too small to even worry about. What the heck is that about!?) . Yoga has truly given me a better way to live every day and I am eternally grateful that I have the opportunity to share that with you.
If you identify with Nikki’s story and want to bring the same peace into your life, she and all of the instructors at Sumits can help you find it.