Yoga. I was introduced to the idea of yoga when I was a freshman in college living in the dorms. Although I checked the “non-smoking” preference when filling out my on-campus living application, I somehow landed on the only smoking floor next to the smoking lounge of Cumberland Hall. (This ages me, I know.) A few of the cigarette-smoking (and pot-smoking) ladies on my floor talked about yoga between inhales and practiced it in their rooms. Needless to say, I was immediately turned off by what seemed to me a new-age, hippie-inspired form of meditation. Not only did it seem anti-spiritual, I knew I was too high-energy to think it would be enjoyable for me. That was 22 years ago. My attitude toward yoga has made a dramatic shift since then.
For years, I found relief from stress through running. I ran along the C&O Canal. I ran the streets of Frostburg. I ran in the mornings. I ran in the evenings. I ran on a treadmill and even tried running on an elliptical. I ran to feel my heart pounding in my chest. I ran to remind myself that I was alive. Running felt so good.
In the summer of 2002, I stupidly got behind the wheel of my car after a night of drinking white Russians. Luckily, I was alone. My car rolled several times (according to reports; I remember nothing) and landed on its top. I landed in the ICU for three days with a collapsed lung, a fractured c-5, several cuts and bruises, and a torn medial meniscus in my right knee. I spent months in a neck brace and with a physical therapists. My neck healed; my knee would never be the same. I could not longer run.
I believed it was Karma. I believed the universe was punishing me for being irresponsible and stupid. It made sense to me, so I didn’t complain about my knee or ever say, “Why me?” because I knew why. But it didn’t stop me from hurting and plummeting slowly into a quiet depression.
I kept myself busy for years after the accident: I planned my wedding, I went back to school, I volunteered, I read more, but I could never find an activity that made me feel as alive as running did. I left my husband, had an affair, tried finding that “thing” that gave me faith and courage in myself. It wasn’t around any of the corners I looked. Every where was a dead end. I became more and more complacent with the idea that life was just life. I became fatalistic to a degree. I somehow lost my fire, so to say. I was waste high in in self-doubt and very depressed but felt there was nothing I could do about it.
In the fall of 2011, I started looking into finding an orthopedic surgeon that could possibly “fix” my knee so I could run again. While surfing the internet, I stumbled upon some testimonials from yoga practitioners who claimed to have been healed physically and emotionally by yoga. Being the cynic I can sometimes be, I highly doubted what I was reading. But after reading more and more about yoga and its benefits, I decided to shed myself of my bias and prejudice and began searching for a studio in my neighborhood.
I found Bikram Yoga Rockville. My first day practicing yoga was October 15, 2011. I have not been the same since:
- After my first 90-minute practice, I felt something happening to my knee, something good.
- I started feeling alive again within 3 practices.
- I could walk down steps without holding onto the railing after a week of practices.
- I learned patience.
- I felt the flame returning to my heart.
- I found myself again!
And with finding myself, I hope to give of myself more. I want to give more to my husband, my son, my mother, my sisters, my family, my friends, and every person I encounter in my life. I call myself a yoga snob, because I can’t stop talking about it as if it were a part of me. But, I guess, it IS a part of me. Namaste.