Yoga with a Nontraditional Yogi
I started practicing yoga as a part of a challenge years ago then became interested mostly in the exercise component. At the time, I wasn’t really interested in understanding the benefits nor the lifestyle revolving around yoga. I simply enjoyed exercising my body, but the more I practiced, the better I felt mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and I wanted to know why. Though exercising in general gives you a sense of release, yoga gave me more. It led me to a journey to me, if you know what I mean. It became more than just about how I felt. It became about what I did, who I was, where I was. I realized not only my personal responsibility to care for myself (through all my actions) but the power to actually act on that responsibility.
I found that at times I’d release my power to others with hopes with hopes that they would care for me the way that I cared for them, and sometimes that was the case. I'm sure most people share this experience of feeling like someone is causing you to feel a certain way (sad or even happy) or causing you to (re)act a certain way. You’re not really embracing the power within self to do as you choose. Ultimately, yoga was my avenue to physically work on areas that encouraged me to live with the purpose of total wellness—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. As I became more consistent in my own practice, my desire to understand how all these things work together grew.
I enrolled in a nearby teachers’ training to gain a deeper understanding of how yoga helps and how I could share this practice with others. It didn't stop there for me either. The benefits of yoga became more relevant after I transitioned out of the military. After living in a culture of justified violence, continuous personal danger, mental manipulation, and control for nearly ten years, I needed to mentally shift and recover myself, to say the least. So I sought out and completed a yoga teacher training that was specifically created to help those recovering from traumatic life events or careers. Experiencing these trainings helped me connect the benefits of yogic movement to the real-life matters we experience everyday as veterans and people of color like anxiety, stress, depression, and many other mental and physical ailments caused by our past lifestyle and experiences.
Because of my experience with the benefits of what my personal practice does for my overall well-being, I continuously strive to create and maintain space for myself and others to develop practices that resonate specifically with a community that is in dire need of mental and emotional care and healing. Because this space of wellness is kinda frowned upon, I realized that even those recognizing a need within themselves and their family will hesitate seeking it. Which is okay but more of a reason to provide healing, friendly space and a community that offers simple livable actions that we can share amongst each other. We can help ourselves and help each other by sharing the gift of yoga, even if it’s just a little here and there.