In the spring of 2017, my best friend and I attended our very first yoga class together. During this time of my life, I was at war with myself. My body, mind, heart and spirit were disconnected and imbalanced. At this time, my eating disorder had just started and it quickly reached a peak where it had me rolling down a mountain at what seemed like the speed of light. Once, I stopped rolling, gravity slammed me to the very bottom. It was cold at the bottom of the mountain. The yellow color of the grass indicated that it was dead and there were weeds all around me. Anywhere I looked, there was not a single sign of life.
With the help of yoga, I began to plant little seeds. In Sanskrit, an ancient Indic language of India, the word yoga means unity or connection. Yoga is a state of connection and it provides those who practice it with techniques and guidance to consciously connect with anything—the Earth, the universe, this life, other beings, and oneself. Through yoga practice, one can harmonize the body, mind, heart, and spirit with the life force energy of the breath. In the process, one seeks to become aware of the energy or spirit, within and without.
I watered the seeds frequently, but without sunshine, they would not grow. On New Years Eve of 2017, after having spent the entire day crying alone with myself, I made the decision to become a plant-based vegan. From here on out, I would feed my body whole and nutritious foods grown from Mother Earth that would fill and satisfy me. That worked for two weeks before I relapsed. A few days later, I called an eating disorder hotline number where I cried for hours on end with others who had overcome their mental illnesses and recovered from their addictive, habitual behaviors. I relapsed that same night and for the two days that followed. A few days after, I began my counseling sessions with a counselor who I meet with every Tuesday at eleven in the morning. A week later, I went to my doctor appointment where I told her what I have been suffering from. She got me in contact with another counselor who I meet with every Thursday at ten in the morning. I did all of this while neglecting my yoga practice. I would only practice on my mat once or twice a week but my mind was occupied with self-defeating thoughts which negatively affected my practice and commitment. I relapsed five weeks later. Although I had accepted that I needed to change, and had a support group, I was not fully committed to recovery nor to my yoga practice. My plants were not growing and neither was I.
At that time of my recovery, I was not all that sure if I really wanted, needed, and deserved to recover. But those were just lies told by my eating disorder self. I want to recover. I need to recover. I deserve to recover. It was time to dissociate myself with what had been controlling me to reconnect with my truest self, my highest self. I dug up the seeds I had planted to consciously and mindfully replant them. It began to rain after I planted them. With rain comes cleanse.
With time, the sun made its daily appearance and I basked in it with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. I grabbed my mat and began to practice yoga. I began my practice with Tadasana, mountain pose, for alignment. After a few breaths there, I then moved onto, Uttanasana, forward fold, to create space in the spine. With every pose, I honor my body where it is. I roll up and repeat the same poses before moving onto Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward-facing dog. In this pose, I work the opposite points away from each other to then unify them like the sun and the moon—the masculine and the feminine. As I ground my heels, roots grow from my feet and down through the Earth. With the breath, I then “take a Vinyasa,” by sliding into plank position and into Chaturanga. Then, I move into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, upward facing dog, where I lift my chest to open the lungs and free my fiery heart. I do not allow my thighs to touch the ground unless my body needs them to before moving back into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Bringing one foot to the hands, the other follows, and again allowing my body to slowly unfold from Uttanasana in its own pace and into Tadasana. From here, I allow my body, mind, heart, and spirit to flow. I begin to flow like my breath. With my breath.
It is spring again, and the sun shines on me, the mountain, and the plants I replanted which continue to grow. Birds are chirping. Bees are buzzing. Butterflies are flying. And I am soaring. Flying above the clouds, and into other worlds and universes. The mountain top is beautiful from here. Then I hear my yoga instructor say “Come back to the breath.” I come back home to my physical self, to Mother Earth, and I root myself to the ground.
At the end of my practice, I sit in Padmasana, Lotus Pose, with my eyes closed and my heart open. I rest my hands on my knees, and lightly connect my forefingers with my thumbs. Gyan Mudra. It evokes the highest version of the self and brings peace, as I continue to evolve from a state of darkness to enlightenment. As we inhale and lift our arms to the very top of our heads, we bring the palms together, and then bring the hands to heart center. We take one last deep breath in together, a deep union of spirits as we are all connected by the air we breathe. We bow. The divine in me bows to the divine in you.