When I overheard individuals praising the fantastic powers of yoga, I used to roll my eyes and walk on, sure their claims were far overrated. Walk by me now and you will hear me exclaiming — to anyone who will listen — the healing powers of sun salutations and forward folds. Three times in my life, yoga’s incredible powers caught hold of me, healed me, and gave me hope.
In 2010, crippling pain from dual plantar fasciitis forced me to use a wheelchair. This was a humbling and frustrating experience. I had always used exercise as a stress reliever and my fitness level as a point of pride, but the pain from these injuries was too much to push through. Physical activity was inaccessible; even swimming caused me pain.
Then, I found yoga. I received an email offering a free hot yoga class at Mind the Mat. I thought, might as well go relax because I can’t do anything else. Boy, was I wrong.
That class was the beginning of a love affair. I had found an answer to my quest for a delicious, sweaty, exhausting workout – a workout offering healing that years of physical therapy, cortisone shots, and expensive orthotics had not.
This was the first time I clung to yoga. The brilliant release of moving from a back-bend towards a downward dog was truly a gorgeous, healing experience.
When our second child was born unexpectedly eight weeks early and, at the same time, our daughter was in and out of the hospital with a recurring undiagnosed illness – my passion for the mat turned into a white-knuckle grip. At this point in my practice, handstands had become part of my daily flow. I found comfort in exerting myself physically and achieving new successes on my mat, especially as so much was out of my hands in other areas of life.
My passion for yoga became my life raft and I spent a small part of four or five days a week upside down. Two years later, and after my children’s health issues stabilized, I took the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to do yoga in a treetop studio shaded by palm fronds and with a view of the ocean. Love.
In Fall 2015, in a matter of three weeks, I lost my job as a result of a company reorganization, we purchased a new house with no working bathrooms (which was exciting but the stress of the move and a full renovation on a budget that had just vanished caused tremendous anxiety), and I found out that the third baby we had always wanted was on its way. My carefully laid plans and safety nets evaporated in a matter of moments.
In my first trimester, I was diagnosed with severe prenatal depression. My happy, positive spirit sank to a point far below my reach. I was unable to get my feet back underneath me despite all my efforts. I loved my kids but I was scared to be left alone with them. I was excited at the idea of having a new family member, but could not understand how I could make it safely to delivery.
After some time, and with a lot of help and borrowed hope, I found my way back to my mat. Again, solace came from standing on my hands, challenging my balance. and finding my breath.