Everyone has a story. Everyone, in his or her own ways, is a hero/heroine/protagonist of a unique tale.
Today, I would like to share mine.
You see, I didn't start out knowing that I wanted to become a yoga teacher and yoga therapist. My path was more or less carved out for me when I was young, but then I became somewhat of the oddball or black sheep of the family when I chose the road less taken, to go off the beaten path.
I was born into a family of scientists and PhDs, of achievers and Nobel Prize winners. As you can imagine, I was expected to follow the academic track in the sciences. And I thought I wanted that, too — up until the end of college.
What if I want to teach yoga?
By my senior year of college in 2011, yoga already has been part of my life for five years. Yet, it seemed preposterous for me to even consider doing a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training after I had worked so many years towards a biology degree.
After all, analytical, responsible, independent, sensible, modest, and collected are adjectives my parents often used to describe me and my already perfectionist-nature since childhood. I grew up thinking these adjectives defined me, and no matter what, I should uphold them. Or, at the very least, I needed to appear to uphold these traits as my character to the external world. Any behavior that violated these qualities would throw me into mixed emotions of doubt, upset, and stress that I had failed to “be” these qualities. At that point in my life, becoming a yoga teacher was definitely not analytical nor sensible.
The Inner Tension
Against all my logical sensibilities, I followed my gut and heart and trained to become a yoga teacher. For several years after my first teacher training, I felt ashamed, guilty, and unworthy compared to my peers from college who went on to become doctors and engineers. I felt like I’d “failed” by deviating from my expected path.
During those few years, I became increasingly yet unknowingly tense inside, both physically and mentally. I was often irritable and easily fatigued. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I had an overly intense personal yoga practice. I lacked all motivation, even though I was supposedly doing what I loved to do: teaching yoga.
Little did I know that my years of acting to appear as if I had my act together and my self-imposed seclusion were causing an inner tension state on my body and mind. No matter how much I exercised, moved, and stretched, I could not resolve this tension.
When I found Yoga Therapy, and in particular Spinal Release Yoga (SRY), I began to understand myself. I realized how incredibly tight my spinal muscles had been all these years, decades perhaps. Because I was trying to uphold myself as this image of hard-working perfection, I tightened up inside to hide my other “imperfect” characteristics and my own insecurity. I tightened up inside so that I could grit my teeth and put on a smile outside. I tightened up inside so that I could swing between starving myself and exercising vigorously, so that I could bend past what is healthy to achieve the “perfect” yoga pose.
My chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and body pains were all a result of my tight spinal tensions. Because of my strict efforts to hold myself together inside to appear perfect in this imperfect, ever-changing, unpredictable world, I was directly depleting my body’s reserves.
Finally, my repressed bitterness, pressure, and the stress of having to show up as “perfect” was dissipating. The wall I had built to imprison my insecurities was shattering. I felt like I was in turbulent waters getting hit, pushed under, and pummeled by wave after wave. My brain was trying to contain this mess within me that I had hidden for years, but my body was trying to break free.
And finally, after almost a year of this tsunami, I finally found some ground to stand upon. As a result of this discovery and transformation, my spinal muscles started to relax. Miraculously, as I continue to create inner ease through my Spinal Release practice, my energy returned, I was sleeping better, my chronic aches and pains went away, and I began to see who I truly am without the borders, definitions, and perfections that I imposed on myself by trying to live up to others’ expectations of me.
The New Inner Ease and Freedom
In one way or another, we are all prisoners within the walls we subconsciously designed for ourselves through the impressions, memories, and stories of our upbringing, culture, family, and community. Some walls are short, thin, and translucent. Others are tall, thick, and menacing. But within all of us, there is radiance and power. We may feel like a mess inside, but it is a beautiful mess. We just need to let ourselves and others see past these walls to find our sparkling core, to see that we are worthy of self-care and self-love.
Yoga Therapy has helped me do exactly that, to see the gem that I am, to free up my energy, so that I can offer my gifts to the world, to You.
Let me hold your hands as we step forward on this journey together. Let’s soften your inner and spinal tensions so that we can resolve your chronic pain and fatigue. Let us start this journey towards inner ease and self-love.