How Yoga Saved Me

I first met yoga when I was just about done with uni back in 2010 and I had bought a cardio yoga DVD because my boyfriend at the time always pressured me into working out more and being skinnier, but I was too intimidated to workout in a gym or go running on the street where people could see. Well, long story short, the guy didn’t last long, but luckily the yoga did!

I nearly lost myself during that time of my life, and maybe I did to an extent, but I was just stubborn enough to keep up the good fight. Crawling if I had to...which I often did with the help of dear family and friends right alongside me encouraging me on.

It was my first real taste of depression. I had lost my dad after his long and courageous battle with cancer, I had escaped an abusive relationship where I felt worthless, I had moved back to my home state of Oregon but was in a new town with only knowing my two cousins in the town over. I was a mess.

But I kept fighting to survive and to heal.

Slowly, I got better. I created a great life for those next 3 years while living in Portland, but I decided I wanted something different, so I packed up my life and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark to be a full-time volunteer at a non-profit.

While doing a weekend training for the new position I was about to take on overseas, I stayed for part of the time with my aunt. Her twin sister owned a yoga studio, so they invited me along for an evening class.

I had no proper yoga clothes or anything that would remotely work, so my aunt let me borrow some yoga sweats, which were wayyyy too long for me, and that I kept having to kick out from under me all while looking around at everyone to see what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I’m sure I was a sight for sore eyes! But I actually enjoyed it! Awkwardness and all!

My aunt’s sister made a comment that I will never forget after I said what everyone says when they try yoga, “I’m just not that flexible.” She said I may not be the most flexible in my legs, but the upper part of my body definitely was.

So there was hope!! The yoga flame burned on inside of me, even if ever so slightly.

My time to move to Copenhagen came not long after that, and soon the depression started again. If you’ve ever been to Denmark, you know the winters are hard and dark. Mix that with a breakup right as winter hit and even the hygge culture that the Danes are famous for couldn’t keep me from slipping into that dark cloud of depression again.

I was desperate for anything that would help me climb back out again. Yoga seemed to be the best place to start, so I signed up at a studio called Yogamudra and it was life-changing.

The yoga fire inside of me finally got a chance to grow, and it was one of the key tools in fighting off my depression. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t have bad days or still struggle sometimes, but I was lighter and felt like I had something all to myself that was helping me heal from the inside out.

After two years of life in Copenhagen, I moved back to the US for a short time before moving to Prague. I had such high expectation about starting a new chapter in Prague, but once I got here, it wasn’t easy at all.

I struggled to fit in. I didn’t like teaching English even though I had spent all this money on a new life and career change… I simply felt stuck.

The depression took hold of me yet again to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. I had no idea what to do until I was scrolling through Facebook and an ad for “Yoga in English” for a new yoga studio in town came across my feed.

The studio’s name was Prague Yoga Collective.

I emailed Lisa asking how I could sign up and how I could pay, and I had every intention of going to the opening day, but the dark cloud kept me confined to my bed. But the next day I realized that nothing was ever going to change unless I picked myself up and tried some form of movement again. So, I bundled up and made my way across town to an area that seemed scary to me at the time.

I had ventured all that way to get to class and yet I still physically stopped in the parking lot just outside of the gym that held the studio and wondered if I should actually go inside. You see, I’m rather shy in new situations even at the best of times, and even though darkness lay behind me at home, at least I was familiar with that darkness. I had no idea what lay before me. Who was there? What would the class be like? I hadn’t done yoga in almost 2 years so would I even be able to do the class?

A million thoughts raced through my mind in that moment of hesitation outside in that cold parking lot, and I decided to keep moving forward into the unknown. Hoping that I would find a breath of fresh air.

The moment I opened the door into the gym, I knew that everything would be okay. I walked up the stairs and timidly opened the door to see Betti waiting there for anyone who would show up.

At the time, PYC was doing a 15 day intro pass, so I bought it even though I couldn’t really afford it. But I knew that I needed yoga in my life just as much as I needed food or water or air.

Little did I know at the time, but my life would be so different today if I had turned around and gone back home that fateful November night.

Sometimes it scares me a little to think about ”What if I didn’t choose to go through those doors?” because what I found on the other side is something that I cherish deeply.

I found hope, I found a purpose, I found dear friends who are like my family, I found a community, and I found a way to climb back out of the dark hole of depression and back into the sunlight.

And that has made all the difference.

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