For many years, I heard the word ‘yoga’ and cringed. To be honest, it looked boring, and I never wanted to be one of those “yoga people”!
3 years into my recovery from drugs and alcohol, a friend persuaded me to sign up for a 30-day challenge at a hot yoga studio in Sydney. I will admit that my motivations for walking in the door were to lose weight and get a good rig, as much of my life was defined by my eating disorder and physical appearance at that time.
Even then, I could tell that there was something more to this whole yoga thing, as I would leave each session feeling lighter and brighter. I noticed a big change in my mood and felt more present in general life.
6 months later, I moved to Bali and started practicing at a studio there. I will also admit that what drove me there was a man that I was infatuated with, but nevertheless, I started showing up almost daily. I then began the practice of Ashtanga Yoga with a beautiful married couple, who became my first teachers. I practiced with them 5-6 days a week for 4 years.
I had never committed myself to anything or anyone for such a long period of time. They became family. We showed up to the mat consistently, whether we were happy, sad, angry or mad. I trained with these teachers as an assistant for over a year, and later travelled to India to practice for 3 months with Sharath Jois, the descendant of the founder of Ashtanga Yoga.
There has been nothing boring about my journey with yoga. I am constantly challenged, both physically and mentally. It has made the impossible, possible and I have been able to apply this to my everyday life. If I can put my leg (even both legs!) behind my head and drop into a backbend from standing, then possibly I can chase the other dreams I aspire to reach. The only limitations are the ones that I put on myself.
I have also developed a beautiful community of fellow practitioners whom I now call friends. There is a common understanding of not only the physical practice of yoga, but also the magical change that it has brought to our daily lives.
At some point of my life, I had renounced myself as hopeless and completely unfixable due to my battle with mental health. My yoga practice has given me the resilience and courage to keep on keeping on. To not give up when times are tough. To know that this too shall pass, and I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind too. This has been my story, and the proof lies within me.
My message is not that everyone should go do yoga, we are all unique. Instead, find your own passion; whether that is yoga, dance, music, creative arts or any other hobby. Find that thing that brings you joy and a moment of presence – where nothing else matters and everything feels at peace
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/