I started practicing yoga at a gym in the fall of 2001 as a way of toning after the birth of my first son, J. After several weeks of practice, I realized that I could cheat in the poses and no one would notice or care. A few weeks later, I realized that I was only cheating myself. If I was going to take the time and energy to get my son bundled up and out of the house to go to the childcare room, then I shouldn’t waste it by cheating on the poses.
My once a week practice helped me heal and tone my body after the emergency c-section six months earlier. I also noticed that it helped me to be calmer, even when I wasn’t in yoga! And it increased my sex drive. I loved the way I felt after yoga class so I kept coming back for more.
Two years later, I became pregnant with twins! I attended prenatal yoga all through the pregnancy. It was my one “splurge” on myself each week. It was worth every penny! When the babies decided it was time to join us in the world 5 and a half weeks earlier than they should and no one seemed to want to follow my birthing plan, I could hear my yoga teacher’s voice in my head telling me to breathe and find calm. So I did.
The twins had some minor health issues at first, but they quickly grew healthy and strong until my daughter was 3 1/2. She had developed large lumps on her throat, neck, and face and my normally calm and rational pediatrician, wasn’t so calm anymore. There was talk of Cancer. In. My. Baby. Girl. CANCER! And that word became my mantra, even though I didn’t know what a mantra was yet. Cancer. My baby might have cancer. My sweet little girl might have cancer. She’s sick and I didn’t even notice. I’m a terrible mother. I can’t lose my little girl. These thoughts ran through my head on a constant loop. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t function. And, I was convinced I was going to lose my job as a writing professor because I couldn’t concentrate enough to grade papers.
Luckily, I had a therapist who talked to me, and a doctor who put me on Wellbutrin, and friends who were also professors who helped me grade papers for no pay, but much gratitude. We got through it. But, I stayed on the Wellbutrin for 6 years. It took the edge off life. It prevented the extreme highs and lows. It made me a little numb, which I needed at first. But after a while, it made things seem okay when they really weren’t. It made me feel like my marriage was good or at least okay, when it was clear to everyone else that it wasn’t, although no one ever told me so.
Then, we lost everything. We declared bankruptcy. There was lots of blame. I took on a lot of it because it was easier. My husband went on anti-depressants. One month, we had to use the kids’ college funds to pay the electric. We lost our house and our car. But we were lucky. My parents stepped in and provided us with a place to live. We got food stamps so we could eat. We survived. I was totally in survival mode until August of 2010.
|Me at My Sister’s Wedding|
That month, my sister got married and she was REALLY happy. She had a beautiful garden ceremony surrounded by friends and family. She was so happy and I was lost. I woke up. I woke up and realized that my marriage was over. And then I went to a wedding to watch people be truly happy. It sucked. I didn’t let anyone see me cry, but I cried a lot!
When I finally went home my husband and I decided to part ways, it was amicable, at first. It was still hard. We split up our stuff. We split up the kids’ schedule. It was hard. Then, it got harder.
During all of this, I couldn’t afford yoga. No yoga for me. I missed it. I knew I needed it. But, still, no yoga.
I was offered a job at Penn State University as a research assistant. My dream job! My Alma Mater! I was psyched! It was awesome! At first. And then it wasn’t.
I hadn’t worked full-time since Jaxson was a few weeks old. Full time, single mom with no help nearby was hard! I sucked at it. The kids didn’t like it. The amicable separation quickly deteriorated as my now ex-husband took himself off anti-depressants without a doctor’s supervision: RE mood swings, hallucinations, physical illness, etc. We were not co-parenting. We were barely surviving.
But, I was practicing a little yoga almost every day. I couldn’t afford classes, but I could practice in my room when I squeezed it in between being a mommy and being a researcher. It helped. I was in great shape physically, and it kept me calm as the rest of my life seemed to be crumbling in. It also helped me to realize that I needed to let go of unhealthy relationships to make room for healthy ones.
Then, in June 2011, I met Shane. (I actually re-met Shane because we went to high school together.) Ah! Shane! He rocked my world! With him, I felt at
|Our First Date|
ease. I smiled more. I worried less. I was happy! I was in love! It was AMAZING! We dated long distance. We met each other’s children and families. It was good! So good! So, after a while, we decided to get married.
I left my not-so-dream job at Penn State. My three kids and I moved into Shane’s tiny 2 bedroom house. And we were happy. Of course, there were growing pains, but it was mostly good! Mostly. I didn’t have a job or any friends. I was lonely and felt like I had lost my purpose. But, for the first time, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
|Photo credit: Chicks with Cameras|
I started taking yoga with my awesome friend Teal. (My first friend in NC). She encouraged me to get certified to teach yoga. When I started training, I decided to go off of Wellbutrin. Under the supervision of my doctor, I used yoga and yoga and yoga philosophy to start overcoming my anxiety. I came out of the fog and found that my life was pretty awesome!
I have been teaching yoga full time since 2014. I am certified in prenatal yoga, power yoga, aerial yoga, yoga for trauma and anxiety, and yoga for veterans. In August 2016, I earned a 500 hour advanced teacher of therapeutic yoga. And in 2018, I will finish my certificate in Yoga Therapy.
Yoga has helped me in so many more ways than I’ve mentioned here. Yoga has changed my life. I want to help other people to change theirs! Since this blog is intended to fulfill that intention, please ask questions and ask for advice. This blog is here to help you heal your life with yoga!