Why I stuck with yoga even when it got ugly

Recently, a very dear friend and fellow survivor introduced me to Linda Sparrowe, yoga teacher, former editor-in-chief of Yoga International magazine, and past managing editor of Yoga Journal. She’s a participant on the upcoming panel discussion, “Yoga Continuum: Facing Challenges with Courage and Compassion”, as part of a collaboration between Naropa University and Yoga Journal. She kindly asked me to detail my experience with yoga as therapy. I share her questions and my answers below:

How have yoga and meditation helped you in your own journey through diagnosis, treatment, remission, and even recurrence?  

When I began practicing yoga 4 years ago at the age of 39, I had no idea how much of me was broken. At 18, I experienced intimate partner abuse at the hands of my boyfriend, who was also 18. The relationship didn’t last more than 6 months, but my life and outlook on life changed forever. 

For 2 decades, I suffered from, without realizing I was suffering from them, depression, alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress (PTSD). My inner world was out of control, but I thought I could compensate by controlling my outer world. My perfectionistic tendencies ran the gamut: I had to look perfect from head to toe; I had to get perfect grades; I had to perform perfectly in my jobs; I had to have a perfectly clean and ordered house; I had to look like I had a perfect life despite the fact I hated myself. I didn’t even understand why I hated myself, which made hating myself that much more intense and burdensome on my mind and spirit. I became obsessed with food and acquired an eating disorder. I feared criticism and didn’t want anyone to think I was stupid. So one degree wasn’t enough. I had to go for advanced degrees and certificates, anything to prove my worth and value. Just being me wasn’t enough.

At 39, I escaped another short-term abusive relationship. I was lost. I wanted to kill myself. Luckily, I had family who loved and supported me. But even that didn’t seem like enough.

Then I discovered yoga two months before my 40th birthday. Within a few weeks of practicing, I overcame my binge eating and bulimia. Within 6 months, I quit drinking and was finally diagnosed with PTSD. For good and bad, my yoga practice opened the pathway to all of the repressed memories and denial I had been trying to bury for years. All the harm inflicted upon me by myself and others surfaced. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I thought I was going crazy, because, for the first time since I was 18, I was facing all of myself head on, and I couldn’t look away. Yoga unveiled my inner being, and my inner being wouldn’t allow me to look away. This process of going inward and seeing myself “naked” was painful, humiliating and shameful. Initially and despite practicing yoga almost daily, I fell even deeper into the pit of darkness and self-hatred. 

Fortunately, the side effects of my bottom were short-lived, because yoga helped me find my voice. I wrote and self-published my first book in 2012, “Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath”, which highlights my last abusive relationship. From there, I created and maintained a blog on which I purged myself of more “stuff” and connected to others in the process. At the end of 2014, I self-published my second book, “Unashamed Voices: True Stories Written by Survivors of Domestic Violence, Rape and Fraud”, which features 38 first-hand accounts of abuse submitted to me by visitors of my blog.

And I feel like that’s only the beginning of my life’s work. 

Last year, I completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training, because I not only wanted to deepen my practice and understanding of yoga, but I want to give others the gift yoga gave to me: my life. 

I teach yoga twice a week and yoga nidra guided meditation once a week. Over time, I plan to transition away from my corporate job as a web content developer and trainer and into teaching yoga and being a health coach full-time. My deepest heart’s desire is to help as many people as I can escape their pain, shame, and humiliation and awaken as I awakened.

How are yoga and meditation sources of healing, understanding and acceptance? 

Yoga taught me acceptance and letting go. At the heart of yoga, I learned:

1. Compassion for all living things. The first I had to master was compassion for myself. 

2. Being perfect is unattainable, because nothing is permanent except change, so there is no such thing as a state of being perfect. 

3. How others treat me is about them and not me. How I treat myself is what matters, because how I treat myself is how I will treat others. I want to be good to people, not indifferent, mean, or nasty. It’s a daily exercise to elevate my levels of self-love and self-trust. 

4. The humiliation, shame, and pain I experienced doesn’t mean I’m weak or unworthy of love; it means I’m human. I’m perfect just because I’m me. Yoga taught me that.

And, what would you put in your own yoga toolkit that you could draw upon as you face aging, illness, or even death?

To never stop. To keep going. It’s never too late to live or take another breath toward a more fulfilling life. Life is the absence of the fear of growing old and dying. Life is love. Death just happens.

Is it possible to explain why yoga? Or, maybe more precisely, what it was about yoga itself that allowed you to trust the process? That allowed you to stick with the pain of investigation and self-inquiry? What can yoga do for us that, for instance, talk therapy can not? How did yoga help you find your voice and feel comfortable and safe sharing it? How did it help you find more compassion, courage and perhaps patience with yourself?

First and foremost, my teachers, their patience, and their spirit of acceptance kept me motivated. I felt safe with them. I didn’t feel judged in their presence, which allowed me to be less critical of myself. Reciprocity of energy and vibration. If I fell out of a posture, my teachers would either encourage me to try again or encourage me to let it go for the night and try again the next night. No need to become frustrated or angry with myself, they’d say. It’s only yoga, and tomorrow is another day. Wow! That was a lot for my perfectionist nature to handle and accept. But my teachers made it effortless for me. I was never made to feel like I failed, like any attempt was a poor attempt, or like I had to attain a certain level of expertise or experience before becoming a yogini. I was permitted to be a yogini the second I walked onto my mat for the first time. Being accepted and respected without the need to prove myself worthy…that’s a powerful motivator. 

And because my teachers were so good to me, I wanted to be good to me. I found myself surrounded by acceptance, and peace washed over my hypersensitive nature which was normally agitated and accustomed to being preoccupied with seeking acceptance from others. This unconditional acceptance from my teachers on the outside allowed me to be focused inwardly on my journey into a new frontier of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. My entire perspective shifted because my teachers showed me so much love and acceptance, and they didn’t even know me outside of the classroom.

Despite how tough my inward journey became at times, I refused to give up on myself. If I gave up on myself, I saw it as giving up on my teachers and all the love and kindness they freely and generously bestowed upon me. If I felt like giving up, I’d grab my mat and head to the studio. I always had my teachers, my breathing, my asana, and the collective energy of the studio to ground me. And for me, an introvert and highly sensitive person to rush to people rather than away from them for energy and motivation, that’s heavy.

Today, I’m more inwardly motivated and look to my personal transformation the past four years as proof that this thing called yoga works…for me. So why give it up? Why stop? I keep learning more and more and getting healthier and healthier. I’ve been 100% medication-free for over three years! No therapist would be able to do that for me, because 1) people on drugs keep therapists in business; and 2) no therapist understands or would believe that medication acts as a band-aid and blocks the user from finding their inner power. Medication couldn’t cure or heal me; medication kept me numb and lifeless. With yoga, I learned that being in motion and being in tune and aware of my body, mind, and spirit is the only path to resurrection, renewal, and an authentic life. Disease and sickness don’t stand a chance against the detoxifying power of perpetual motion, which keeps the mind open and the body successfully moving in the direction of health, homeostasis, and balance. 

Om Shanti,

Paula Carrasquillo

Living beyond change – Keys to sustained healing and transformation

Work, stress, and trying to do too much finally caught up with me. I’m sick.

The signs that I needed to slow down have been there for months. I couldn’t find my spark. I didn’t feel “all-in” about anything life threw my way. Even journaling and blogging were elusive. I failed to finish any critical thinking exercise I started. I’d write a few sentences and abandon the effort mid-stream. Being unable to follow through left me feeling incomplete and impotent in all areas of my life.

A holistic slump. It sucked!

Then I decided to quit my coffee habit this past Sunday. Why? The timing of this decision is beyond my full understanding, but there is no doubt quitting helped my body and my mind wake up…ironically. Eliminating caffeine instantly threw my body into a whirlwind of weirdness: Headaches. Body aches. Nausea. And a cold!?!?

Luckily, these detox side effects moved quickly, and light is once again shining freely into my world. I sense the return of joy, clarity, and freedom of body, mind, and spirit. I look around at my surroundings, and instead of feeling dread at the thought of living out my day, I’m anxious to be creative and explore new possibilities and new ideas.

What a welcome relief after months of feeling stuck and unmotivated.

My biggest struggle lately, and most likely the biggest reason I allowed my energy and verve to be depleted, has been finding the courage to let go of my blog. For the past two years, off and on, I’ve had the urge to delete it. But doing that seemed so senseless. My blog, despite being filled with anger, grief, and sadness, served a great purpose for my own awakening and for that of others (at least that’s the feedback I receive from kind readers). Although hitting the delete button seemed drastic, I couldn’t ignore feeling like the blog hung over me like a dark cloud interfering with my journey toward greater truth, abundance, and higher energy.

I needed a plan. A transitional plan. Change management on an individual level was necessary, because continuing to help people without a solid plan or approach was killing me. Unfortunately, finding the time to build a plan seemed impossible while simultaneously writing posts, responding to comments, responding to emails, and taking phone calls. I was doing these things on top of working full-time as a web content developer, working weekends teaching meditation, going to school to become a health coach, and taking care of my family.

What was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t thinking clearly, that’s for certain. I was allowing the needs of others to come before my own. I was unable to find a balance between helping myself and helping others. Replenish myself and replenish hope in others. But I can’t stop serving others. I’ve tried to stop, thinking, “You must stop helping others”, was how I was meant to interpret the message. It wasn’t the correct interpretation of the message. The correct interpretation is, “Stop for now. Rejuvenate yourself. Devise a sustainable plan of action.”

I was and continue to be guided by a force greater than myself. That force is asking me not to give up what I started four years ago. It’s asking me to allow the same energy I used when I began writing to expand and blossom. That force is reminding me that despite not being able to define an absolute solution today, clarity comes from moving forward.

Today I am semi-resting as I work on wireframes and a site map for my new Love. Life. Om. website dedicated to bringing visitors the latest and most effective holistic self-care approaches to living beyond change and transforming one’s environment, body, mind, and spirit.

Living beyond change. That’s how I see healing and recovery today. I don’t even want to slap “healing” or “recovery” to anything I offer moving forward. Why? Because the first step we take toward recovery and healing is essentially toward a new way of being…a new approach to living. To say, “I am healing” or “I am recovering” implies one is fixing themselves and will stop whatever they’re doing to heal and recover once he/she is fixed. But what we do to heal and recover should not end. We aren’t fixing ourselves in recovery, because we were never broken. What we do in recovery is harness the strongest and brightest light within ourselves to overcome our deepest pain and suffering. Why would one give up being perpetually connected to the strongest and brightest parts of him/herself just because one thinks he/she is healed and recovered?

When we abandon the healthy habits we formed while “in recovery”, the chances of slipping back into old patterns of being, old patterns of thinking, and old patterns of dating and relationships greatly increases. The same way a diet “fails” once one returns to unhealthy eating habits, so too do traditional methods of therapy, healing, and recovery. Temporary steps result in temporary health. Permanent change results in transformation of body, mind, and spirit and the release of the desire to go back to old patterns of behavior.

It’s not about healing and recovery. Our experiences changed us. We must learn to live beyond the change.

Living beyond the change means transforming into a more aware, more joyful individual who continues practicing and mastering the habits and lifestyle choices that propelled one to health in the first place. What I propose and offer is a chance to change one’s entire lifestyle and energy starting from within the soul and working outward into relationships and surroundings.

Yes, there will be lots of yoga tips and even short video tutorials on my new site. There will be meditation tips and recordings to help cure insomnia and PTSD symptoms. In addition, the site will offer nutrition education and easy-to-integrate diet tips to drastically improve your health. I’ll also be offering weekly affirmations delivered directly to your inbox, because it’s hard to stay positive and motivated when change is afoot and everything feels like chaos.

The best part…the majority of what I’ll offer will be free! Of course, there will be costs associated with working with me privately as a health coach, yoga teacher, and meditation guide. Also, extended and personalized meditation recordings will be available for purchase. I’ll continue to market and sell my books, Escaping the Boy and Unashamed Voices, and transfer the best and most popular posts from my current blog to my new site.

It’s a new season. It’s a new beginning. It’s a rebirth.

I’m so excited to offer myself to each of you as you journey toward a lifestyle transformation of abundant health, wellness, and peace. I’ve learned from experience that I must be patient when creating and not release my work prematurely. So please be patient. My new website will be ready when it tells me it’s ready. 🙂

Namaste,
Paula Carrasquillo, MA
Yoga Teacher and Health Coach

Our voices are being heard. Share this!

When I’m not teaching yoga or working with health coach clients, I’m a full-time web content developer for Marriott International. I work at the company’s corporate headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.

Last September, I wrote an email to the CEO of Marriott, because I wanted the company to end its sponsorship of the NFL due to the mishandling of the Ray Rice incident. I don’t know what got into me, foolishness or bravery, but I sent my lengthy message directly to his corporate e-mail account from my corporate e-mail account. The coworker I told was a little shocked. She said he probably wouldn’t read it, and I might hear from “someone” within a week. 

Well, he responded to my email within hours and asked me to call him. With fear and anxiety in my chest and nausea in my throat, I dialed his extension. His admin assistant answered, “Hi, Paula. Let me get Arne for you.” Within 30 seconds, he was on the other end thanking me for the letter and sharing how moved he was by my words. He asked my permission to share the letter with Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL. 

Wow! I was dumbstruck during the exchange. The CEO of a major corporation, a Fortune 500 company, took the time to read my message AND found it powerful enough to share. All I could say was yes and thank you. 

His support inspired me. If HE took the time to stop and listen, who else could potentially be interested in my message? I found the energy and motivation to finally pull together all of the stories submitted to me by victims and survivors of domestic violence, rape and fraud. A few months later, I published “Unashamed Voices” and am determined to keep spreading the message that this kind of abuse happens everyday and is destroying lives. We must do something to make it stop.

Please help me spread the message. Our stories matter and ending this type of abuse doesn’t have to be an elusive undertaking when we come together with a single, compassionate mission.

Namaste.

Order your copy today! 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUMN6HW

The Art of Transformation at Any Age

A few months shy of my 40th birthday, I walked into my very first yoga class. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing or what to expect. I rented a mat from the studio and even a towel that day. I kept my investment at a minimum: $20 for a week of unlimited classes. I was skeptical and filled with uncertainties:

“Will I be able to learn and follow along fast enough?”

“Am I going to hurt myself?”

“Will the other folks in the room notice how scared I am?”

“Will this shit REALLY work?”

After 45 minutes of sweating, bending, and twisting my body while simultaneously being forced to watch the spectacle of myself in the mirrors before me, I realized I had just conquered a feat I never imagined conquering. 

I texted my sister (who is also my best friend) immediately after class letting her know that I really liked my first class and planned on going back the next day. She was excited for me and texted me back, “You’re officially a yogini!”

It took awhile for that message to sink in, but by the end of my first week with 6 classes under my belt, I said to myself, “Wow. I’m a yogini!” 

In a few weeks, I celebrate 4 years as a yogi, one who overcame yoga phobia in 90 minutes flat. I never thought I’d have the patience to practice the “art of transformation”. But I did, I do, and I’m so grateful to myself for stepping over that threshold for the first time on October 14, 2011.

If you have a regular practice, here’s to your continued practice. If you’ve never practiced, here’s to your first step toward becoming a yogi too.

It’s never too late. Transformation knows no age limit!

Namaste. 🙂 ~Paula Carrasquillo

Surrender to the flow #change #transformation #death #renewal

The healing we experience is life changing, transformative. It’s impossible to prepare ourselves for what will emerge and how the emergence will manifest.

For me, I know something essential is being thrust forward for me to accept and release when the tears begin to flow in the middle of a yoga or meditation practice. 

In the early days and months of practicing, I tried to hold them back, control them. I thought crying meant I was weak of spirit, and I didn’t want to be anything less than strong. Now, I understand my tears as symbolic of the powerful, natural, and organic process of death and renewal.

Surrender to the flow!

“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.” – Kripalvananda

Rebirth is coming soon! New and improved website and recovery services

You will emerge into the light and discover true peace and joy, and I want to help you on your journey. In the coming weeks, I’ll be launching a completely new website. Essential information will be easier to find, and the posts you’ve come to rely upon will remain. 

Read this week’s newsletter to learn more about new support services designed for your journey toward recovery and transformation.

Read this week’s newsletter now!

Your next stop on The Great Sociopathic Abuse and Recovery Blog Tour!

I was invited by the author of Carnal Abuse by Deceit, Joyce M. Short, to participate in The Great Sociopathic Abuse and Recovery Blog Tour. To participate, I wrote this post in which I answer the following questions Joyce posed:

  1. How does your writing/creative process work?
  2. What are you working on at the moment?
  3. Why do you write or create what you do?
  4. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

1. How does your writing/creative process work?

A desire to write passes over me after I’ve lived through something or an idea lights up my thoughts. When this happens, I’m inspired to release all of the associated emotions, sensations and reflections, so I sit down at my laptop and write, rewrite and write some more. If I can’t figure out exactly how to word a thought or idea, I step away and pick up a book or I practice yoga or meditate. Sometimes it takes a lot of meditation and several iterations before I decide to publish a post/article. Other times, I immediately get it out onto the screen without hesitation or the need to heavily edit. My writing style is organic and flowing. I try not to be too hard on myself or worry about being perfect with each word or sentence. If it feels right, and my thoughts, when read back to myself, feel authentic and 100% honest, I hit the “Publish” button on my dashboard. The fears of being imperfect, which I carried with me for decades, no longer hinder my creative process. Like Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Doing keeps my life moving and filled with meaning.

2. What are you working on at the moment?

I am in the middle of writing my 3rd book, “Destined to Heal”.

Who will benefit from this book?

“Destined to Heal” is intended to benefit many, from the victims and survivors to the health care professionals and family members who support the victims and survivors. More specifically, the book will benefit:

>>Everyone who has found themselves lost in the aftermath of abuse and trauma and is desperate to take ownership of their healing and recovery but have no idea where to begin.

>>Everyone who started on their journey but find themselves regressing in thoughts and in need of a more solid foundation of validation, accountability and motivation to move forward.

>>Counselors and healthcare professionals interested in empowering their patients outside of appointments and therapy sessions.

>>Friends and family members of victims and survivors who wish to understand their loved one’s struggles and obstacles to healing.

What is the focus of the book?

The book is designed to be informative, illustrative and minimally didactic. The premise and approach to healing and recovery outlined and illustrated in “Destined to Heal” is heavily modeled from Mezirow’s theory of transformational learning.

The book juxtaposes scientific research with holistic theory and practices, which have proven effective in treating individuals in the aftermath of abuse and trauma.

In addition to citing peer-reviewed research, the book includes interviews with psychotherapists, neurosurgeons, and of course, victims and survivors who have been “there” and done “that”.

How will survivors benefit from the book?

“Destined to Heal” provides easy-to-integrate lifestyle options, tools and practices for survivors interested in designing a recovery plan specific to the needs of their personal and distinct healing journey. A companion workbook will also be available at the time of publication.

When will “Destined to Heal” be published?

“Destined to Heal” will be published only after it’s been properly edited, vetted and reviewed. My hope is to have a final draft available for print by January 2017. It may take longer.

3. Why do you write or create what you do?

The simple answer is that I feel like I have no choice but to write and publish. In the aftermath of my personal abuse and trauma, writing served as an effective and therapeutic healing modality. Simultaneously, a voice inside kept telling me I must share and put myself out there…to be vulnerable and unafraid.

As a result, I became a prolific writer and advocate for health. I also became a certified yoga teacher and integrative nutrition health coach. I write articles on yoga therapy, meditation and nutrition, in addition to the books and articles specifically intended to support victims of domestic violence, rape and fraud. Through my contributions, I hope others will realize they are not alone and that there is hope for true and profound healing and transformation. Since 2012, I’ve self-published two books, Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath and Unashamed Voices, and written hundreds of online articles for various publications, including Communities Digital News, Places to Yoga, elephant journal, LoveFraud.com and my personal blog.

4. How does your work differ from others in the genre?

This is a tough one to answer. I’m not really sure what my genre is. Sef-help? Spirituality? Trauma and recovery? What I do know is that I write from a place of experience and a desire to reach others who may have experienced something similar to what I’ve experienced. I don’t want others to make the same mistakes I made. However, if they don’t find my writing until after they’ve already made some of those mistakes, I want them to step away from what I write and realize they’re not alone, it’s not too late and all failures can be overcome when compassion for oneself is ever-present. It’s the readers’ responsibility to take what speaks to them and apply it to their lives. My focus is bent toward a holistic approach along the path of healing and transformation. I weave yoga, meditation and whole-food nutrition into my writing. If it rubs off on some or further validates what others may already be doing, awesome! I certainly do not see myself as an authority on any particular subject. But if a reader can relate to my story and personality, then that reader will, more than likely, get more from my writing than from a writer with whom they can’t relate, regardless of the other writer’s experience or credentials. It’s the nature of being human. We need to find connections, especially in the healing process. Therefore, my responsibility as a writer is to provide as much fact-based, objective data to the reader as possible, while presenting a subjective story with which they will hopefully relate.

Thank you, Joyce, for inviting me to participate in The Great Sociopathic Abuse and Recovery Blog Tour! 

Blog Tour 5/25/15

Sociopathic Abuse and Recovery

Stop Rape by Fraud

Celebrating Truth in Romance Day, June 15th
http://rapebyfraud.com/2015/05/14/announcing-fess-up-day-june-15th/

Better Not Broken

Waffles and Waze: Why Elvis Remains King and It’s Never Too Late For Change
http://betternotbroken.com/2015/05/11/waffles-and-waze-why-elvis-remains-king-and-its-never-too-late-for-change/

Love-Life-Om

Just say “No!” to sociopath oppression and possession
https://paularenee.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/just-say-no-to-sociopath-oppression-and-possession/

 

Immigration Fraud Canada

It All Started With a Divorce and What I Perceived As True Affection and Love….
https://immigrationfraudcanada.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/it-all-started-with-a-divorce-and-what-i-percieved-as-true-affection-and-love/

http://www.care4bullied.com/blog/

Looking for the light

Tell congress to help New Veterans Keep the Mental Health Medications They Need
http://lookingforthelight.me/2015/05/21/tell-congress-to-help-new-veterans-keep-the-mental-health-medications-they-need/

Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

When he tells you the first time…..
http://letmereach.com/2015/05/25/when-he-tells-you-the-first-time-2/comment-page-1/#comment-68897

Additional blogs of interest:

Psychopaths and Love

Journey of Olivia Rose

Lady with a Truck

Mom’s Heart Unsilenced

Soul Healing Art

Michelle Malon

With sincere thanks,

Paula Carrasquillo
Yogi. Author. Advocate.

Read “Unashamed Voices” and expand the sociopath awareness message

Becoming a yoga teacher and health coach allows me the opportunity to continuously give back the gifts that were given to me through my healing and recovery process. I publish books for the same reason.

Unashamed Voices by Paula CarrasquiloMy second self-published book, Unashamed Voices, is a collection of true stories from across the globe written by survivors of toxic and abusive relationships. The book exposes the unchallenged pathological personalities and behaviors of psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists in our midst.

Readers of my blog submitted their stories to me between May 2013 and October 2013. I know it wasn’t an easy task for them. Sitting down and writing the details of personal trauma is an exhausting and triggering exercise. And then to send them off to a complete stranger?

After I received the stories, I spent over a year reading, absorbing and editing each. And I say “edit” loosely, because I did not want the authentic voice of each survivor to be lost in my voice. I stuck to “correcting” only basic grammar and punctuation errors.

I have deep respect and admiration for each and every survivor who took that leap of faith and trusted me. I am determined to continue honoring them and promoting and improving this book. A traditional publisher WILL take notice. Their choice to hit “send” will not be in vain or limited in scope. This book WILL be available in libraries and institutes and read and studied by students, law enforcement, lawyers, judges, therapists and families affected by these tragedies.

Contribute to the expansion of our message. Download and read your copy today and share it with someone tomorrow.

With sincere thanks,
Paula Carrasquillo
Yogi. Author. Advocate.

©2015 Paula Carrasquillo and Love. Life. Om.

After the fall, Yoga Journal gets it right! #Bikram #abuse #healing

YJ_June15Cover_PaulaI was approached in January 2015 by seasoned journalist, Andrew Tilin. He was in the middle of composing a feature story for the June 2015 issue of Yoga Journal magazine. How did he find me? He found me through my yoga blog and was particularly interested in speaking with me after reading the post Mourning my Bikram Yoga practice in light of rape allegations. After all, the purpose of the feature he was writing was to highlight how the yoga community was reacting to criminal allegations against celebrity yoga teachers, in particular John Friend and Bikram Choudhury, and I seemed like someone with an opinion to share. He emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in speaking with him; I responded with a big fat YES!

We spoke over the phone the first time for almost two hours. He contacted me a few weeks later, and we talked for two more hours. On both occasions, Tilin asked me lots and lots of questions about yoga and later about my experiences with abuse. I freely answered all of his questions without hesitation (but with a few tears occasionally). I don’t think he was expecting me to be so talkative and so candid. He often asked, “Are you comfortable sharing this?” And each time, I thought to myself, He must not have read any of my other posts. Of course, I’m comfortable sharing.

I don’t think the editors at the magazine expected me to share as much as I did either, because before they approved the final version of Tilin’s feature, a member of the editorial staff called me to do some fact checking and to verify that everything I shared was okay to print. In addition to the four hours I had already spent with Tilin, I spent close to two more hours talking with the editor. Needless to say, I exerted a lot of energy talking about stuff that I’m more comfortable writing about. If you’re an introvert, you understand how draining that is, but I feel like the investment was worth it. The published article unfolded beautifully! Yoga Journal and Tilin got it right! I have deep respect for, gratitude to and appreciation of the thoughtful and professional attention the journalist and the Yoga Journal staff took with my story.

The article isn’t about me. It’s not even about abusive yoga gurus, although Tilin pulls in data and a few experts to explain why and how abuse at the community level often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. This article, at its core, is about the capacity of the human spirit to overcome and let the light outshine the dark and it reinforces the power of going within to find peace.

Follow this link to After the Fall: The Ripple Effect from Accusations Against Bikram and Friend or pick up the June 2015 issue of Yoga Journal magazine and turn to page 80.

Namaste!
Paula Carrasquillo
Yogi. Author. Advocate.
http://www.paulacarrasquillo.com

©Paula Carrasquillo and Love. Life. Om. 2015

Survivors Continue to Share and Inspire

Love. Life. Om. Survivor Newsletter – Volume 2, Issue 4

Alana (not her real name) submitted her story to me earlier this month through my online submission form. I attempted to respond and thank her, but the email bounced back. So I am sharing her full submission in this newsletter in hopes Alana sees that it’s been shared and contacts me…again…in order to properly thank her.

Also this month, I was contacted by another survivor and author, Holly, who asked me to share her book with everyone. Follow this link to Amazon to download Holly’s book, Escaping Abuse: An Autobiography about Love, Marriage, Abuse, and Perseverance.

Enjoy this issue and pass it along to your network of supporters, survivors and fellow warriors!

Paula Carrasquillo

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: