There was a time I did not practice yoga. Between you and me, I am so grateful that period ended. Prepare yourself before you read on. It’s a recounting of REAL life in the most real, vulnerable and transparent way I could possibly tell it. But! Know there is a bright side too. Thank goodness I finally started listening to those little voices in my head who told me I deserve better than I was choosing for myself. Thank goodness there is great wisdom within us all when we finally lose our layers, let our spirits shine and actually step into the light. I’m happy to be able to share my story with you today and the great learning it keeps providing to me and others.
Big vulnerable truths: My body was toxic from food I now never eat and all the booze I now never drink. My life had developed a metallic anxious feeling to it that I would just “sedate”. I was an insomniac/binge sleeper for over twenty years. Most relationships were toxic, especially the one with myself. Can you identify with always beating yourself up? That anything you put out there just isn’t good enough? I served up my power to those I admired or those who certainly did not deserve me and it wound up being that their words could crush me. After a countless number of traumatic patterns repeated themselves too many times, I became hard, strong and covered in emotional, physical and energetic armour to keep forcing my path forward. The worst thing of all? I thought it was the only reality that existed. I didn’t know there was a different way to be.
I am so happy for those people decades younger than myself who already have clear sight on what it means to live a life worth living. Sometimes I wish that could’ve been me – to know the “right” path undeniably. However, if that had been me, I would never have learned that there is no path one can walk in life that isn’t the perfect path for them.
Lesson 1: Every path is the right path to where you want to be. Seriously!
I never really understood retrospect until my late thirties. It’s something we need to live to see. Now, I can see that romantic, idealistic, ever-luster gleefully willing to chase love and new experiences open-heartedly woman clearly. I can see her, but she can’t see me and is that ever a pity. For while consuming alcohol and cigarettes on those long dark nights when feeling broken, alone and empty, if she could have seen me (or us?) caring for her in a whole new way, maybe her suffering could have ceased.
Lesson 2: There is not one thing in life that isn’t temporary. No matter how alone, broken or sad you feel in any moment…Trust me. It ends. Really!
By the trick of fate, an acquaintance offered me a private yoga class in order to help her get her teaching certificate. At first, I thought I was doing her the favour. I had never practiced before and I had no idea what was in store, though that’s not yet where my new life began. First off, I had to break completely. Slowly, but surely the illusion of life I held to kept me from being able to leave my house or go to work. I was on my umpteenth emotional breakdown and I just couldn’t cope. The symptoms of P.T.S.D. can be catastrophic and I was in its thick throes. Shot nerves, sleepless nights, hallucinations, crazy amounts of anxiety and reactivity. It was the worst breakdown I’d ever had.
It sounds intense, right? O.M.G. it was. But, remember lessons one and two. It was a path meant for me and everything is temporary.
Somehow, I managed to go to yoga taught by my newly certified acquaintance. That’s where the tide turned. It turned unexpectedly, unequivocally and without being sought. There was no forcing my experience. Without any comparison, the deep sense of ease and relaxation I experienced on my mat began to heal me. All I had to do was show up.
And, when I did, oh my goodness. My layers began slipping away. My muscles releasing tears they’d been holding for years. At night, I marvelled for a short while. “How is it I can go into such a deep meditative state on my mat, but at night I can’t fall asleep?” Until, I simply remembered breathing techniques from class.
Lesson 3: Listen to your gut, breathe and don’t force. If you’re drawn to do something you never, ever do and maybe even judge a little bit as absolutely not for you, but your gut is telling you to check it out, GO!! You’ll never know where the moments you experience will take you unless you do.
Every day we wake up, we have choices to make. With a little breathing technique taught by your favourite teacher, the strength you need to make a new choice could be just a breath away.
Now, after a few teacher trainings and a few years of teaching, this experience feels so long ago, but will never be forgotten. Who I was before yoga doesn’t exist anymore. Sure, I have had hiccups and a few more poor choices from not listening to my intuition, but it’s finally come to a point in my practice and therefore my life, where there’s no more forcing. There are no more obstacles. Anything I want to experience, achieve or enjoy is just a choice away. I focus on flowing and then glowing. Who knew so much healing was possible from stretching and reaching? Who knew one could find love for themselves by going within, not without? Who knew that yoga could change the course of our lives with a steady practice?
I am so happy to have followed fate to my mat. I know the journey is just starting. But, with these three lessons in my heart, I know the path I’m on will lead me to my dreams for I’m listening to me. I am breathing and releasing what isn’t right for me. I know that everything is temporary. Keeping these lessons near and dear with a clear vision makes dreams come true for a life worth living; and, I know that yoga is my answer to so many things to come.
Thank you for reading. Namaste beauties.
Sonja Ramsay has developed a deep love for learning how yoga affects her students in their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. She teaches power, vinyasa, hatha, yin, restorative
and nidra. Sonja teaches in high schools, first nations communities, resorts, art galleries and community halls. She loves creating an inclusive, welcoming and curious space for all students drawn to their mats. Currently, a dynamic collective of teachers in the South Cariboo are coming together to open their community’s first studio space.