After the first time I practiced yoga I almost got hit by a car…twice!
That yoga high you may have heard about is true, and it’s what keeps most of us coming back time and time again. Our bodies are incredible machines which for the most part we take for granted. They have the ability to withstand a seven minute long pigeon pose during a yin class, five sets of extended side angle in vinyasa, even a dreaded sixty second awkward pose in the hot yoga series. Why? Because of the euphoric blissful feeling that coats every cell in your body. Typically it sets in during your final savasana at the end of class, then, if you’re lucky, it stays with you the rest of the day. Your body knows when something is good for you and rewards you for taking care of yourself.
We live in a world where patience and stillness are dirty words, where instant gratification is most important! Solutions to what ails or upsets us must be immediate: Got a headache… take a pill, feeling a little blue…take a pill, not fitting into your jeans…take a pill. Like many of you out there I come from a family stricken with depression, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. So naturally when I came face to face with some of my darkest days, I went to see my family doctor and was prescribed anti-depressants “happy pills” after only one visit. I took the pills for a total of 11 months and though I wasn’t feeling sad anymore, I wasn’t feeling anything anymore.
I had zero drive to do anything. My work life, social life even my romantic life suffered. I decided the trade off just wasn’t worth it. My personal relationship with depression was fairly mild, and I am not suggesting that medication is useless against chemical imbalances especially those much more severe than my own. This being said I don’t think that western medicine is all negative. In fact quite the opposite. I am grateful beyond words for what would have been enormous personal tragedies if it wasn’t for the miracles of modern science. I simply believe if we view our health holistically and take responsibility for our personal well-being while guiding others we would see a decrease in illnesses, leaving the doctors, surgeons and hospital beds available for those who need them.
So I decided it was up to me, what was I going to do to keep my moods in check? I always enjoyed walking and had an on and off again relationship with the gym. Living on Vancouver Island often made walking a challenge due to the heavy rain fall, and well, at the time the gym and I were not on speaking terms. As a massage therapist I had always encouraged my patients to do yoga because of the physical benefits and of course for the emotional benefits… AHA! time to practice what I preached!
And so began my journey into the incredible world of yoga! I was unaware of what hot yoga really meant so I showed up in long pants and a tank top. At the sixty minute mark I kept looking at the instructor wondering why she was still talking, surely this sweat filled inferno had to be over after an hour. Thirty minutes later we were instructed to take our final savasana (corps pose) “Yes please! Death, I welcome you with open arms.” That first class was heavenly, once I had made it out of course. This was by far one of the hardest things I had ever put my body and mind through but it was balanced by the way I felt the rest of the day.
Eight years after that initial hot yoga class, every time I sweat though 90 minutes of Hot Yoga or any other physically or mentally challenging yoga class, without fail, I am rewarded with that amazing yoga high. No pill to pop, no scary side effects. Just balance, beautiful harmonious balance.
We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Fulfillment comes with work and patience, sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones and go against the grain to find what truly speaks to our soul.