I like to think I found yoga; but yoga would probably say it found me.
I was 24 and had just begun dating the man who would become my husband. I was feeling the negative effects of an unresolved past sprout up in our relationship and I knew I had to face what had happened to me. I knew I couldn’t let this traumatic experience continue to shape me.
This traumatic experience occurred just two years prior, when I was 22, living in South America. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, so excited and ready to travel the world. I packed my bags and headed South. In the first couple weeks of being there, I met another traveler who I found intriguing and handsome. I bravely asked him out on a date and on that first date, he ended up assaulting me in the most private possible way. I blamed myself for the experience- I had invited him out, I had trusted him, and even though I told him three times that I wasn’t ready, I held onto the shame and regret following that night. I told a few people, but never explained that it wasn’t my choice. The shame clouded my judgement and I felt ultimately that I must’ve somehow been responsible. This shame propelled me to overachieve in every possible way- seeking to prove my self worth externally through my work.
That is, until yoga found me.
It started with attending the yoga that was offered through my employer. Every Tuesday, me and three other employees would show up in the basement, disconnect to the world and reconnect with ourselves. I started developing a practice on my own, playing with different poses, learning about my breath. I grew mindful of my thoughts and feelings. I started meditating and going to therapy and realized that the power to heal was within me.
Through learning non-attachment to my feelings and being able to see myself without judgment, I was able to rewrite the story of that night. I rightly took the blame off of myself and let go of the shame I’d been clinging to. I was able to look at the girl from that night, naive as she may be, with compassion and love. I was able to forgive my perpetrator, not because he deserved forgiveness, but because I deserved peace.
Wherever we are in our lives, our mat is there to meet us with presence, stillness, kindness, and compassion. Our mat is our mirror, reflecting our most genuine, true self back at us. Sometimes, the girl in the mirror may cry, sometimes she may dance, but she is always a warrior, fighting on our behalf. She is always looking at us without judgement nor shame and she helps us to see ourselves in light of that. Stepping onto our mat to face ourselves is the bravest thing we can ever do, but I have yet to find a joy and freedom that parallels it. May my story encourage you to face yourself bravely without hesitation, for there is great joy that lies on the other side.
An important component of yoga is meditation. I recorded a "meditation for healing" just for you. Click here to download it.