Can you imagine what this world would look like without ANY peace?
…An uproar of people shouting hurtful obscenities at one another
…Chaotic crowds wrestling violently in the streets
…Faces plagued with heavy eyes from a lack of rest
You immediately thought about how life with no peace would affect the world as a whole - - but what about you, individually?
Can you imagine what your personal life would look like if there were no peace?
The crazy thing is many of us actually live our day-to-day lives like this without even realizing it. Stress, depression, mental fatigue, health issues, financial strain, and social conflict are but a few of the many sources that can cause us mental disturbance. Often, these sources cause us to lose something money can’t buy- -our peace of mind.
Some of us choose to ignore the wars of our mind as if things will just “go away” on their own. Listen, they never just disappear magically. Instead, these mental disturbances tend to manifest themselves into physical problems. Take depression for example. You can try to mentally suppress depression and say “it’s just a mind thing” but it can still take a physical toll on the body if untreated- - muscle aches and chronic fatigue are but a few of depression’s physical effects.
What if I told you that yoga could answer questions like:
How will I pay all of my bills? (I just do not make enough money.)
How will I ever pass this class? (It is too stressful trying to keep up.)
How can I get over this heartbreak? (I miss him/her so much.)
Why do I have family issues? (Everyone else has the perfect family.)
You can be honest. “SimplyMei has lost her everlasting mind,” is probably what you are thinking. I had the same reaction when a yoga enthusiast approached me years ago with the same, “illusory bullcrap” (that’s what I called it). This yoga enthusiast claimed that yoga could help ease my racing mind and reenergize my drained body. I laughed and declined the invite to attend her class. There were not enough yoga poses, stretching, and sun salutations that could remedy my life’s problems.
I mean the idea was cute and all. Buy some trendy yoga pants. Post some quotes filled with “yoga terminology” on facebook. “Kumbaya” with some yogis and discuss topics like Mother Nature. All yogis were weird, vegans, super flexible, and had an established culture that I just did not belong to. At the time, that was my perception of people that did yoga. Boy was I so wrong.
I am not going to preach that yoga became the band-aid for all of my life’s challenges. However, as a former “non-believer’ I just ask that you open your mind to learning about a practice that has gifted me with the ability to defeat anxiety (something that I’ve long battled with), strengthen my body, improve my posture, gain flexibility, open my mind to new possibilities, help with ongoing back pains I have had since the birth of my child (result of epidural), and much more.
How it all began…
Campus of UNC-C.
Working mom. (2 part time jobs)
Soccer mom. (son active in sports)
A used car that is barely drivable.
Full time student.
Actively involved with organizations on campus.
The list goes on…
I was never sitting down and my mind was never relaxed. Worry was my middle name.
Truth be told, I never had a chance to embrace “living in the present.” That was a foreign concept to me. I was either worrying about something in the future such as an approaching deadline for a school assignment or reflecting over something I could have done better in the past like practicing better time management skills.
Life was full of hustle and bustle. All I knew was that I had obligations and that there was no time to rest. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off unaware of how extreme my mental and physical exhaustion actually was. In my head, I had convinced myself that I was superwoman - - invincible in every way. I never used the “T-word”. It was taboo. In fact, I didn’t allow myself to admit that I was “T-word”. (Tired)
One day someone once told me, “If you don’t learn how to sit down and take a break, your body is going to do it for you. Your mind and body work together. I know your mind is telling your body to chill out and you are being hard headed. One day everything is going to shut down if you don’t learn to treat yourself to a little peace and relaxation.” I thought yes that is true but I don’t have the time to do that soo *rolls eyes*.
I guess my body had time…
My body had, had enough and guess who ended up hospitalized for dehydration and exhaustion? You guessed it. Stubborn ol’ me. I couldn’t even remember passing out. All I knew is that I never wanted to be back at the hospital again for blacking out. It was scary to think that a mind with no rest could cause your body to become all out of whack to the point of lost control.
Of course, doctors being doctors naturally suggested prescriptions to help “slow my mind”. They even gave my racing thoughts a name - - anxiety. I was not sold on the idea of a medicinal solution, though. I am not totally against medicine but this was something I felt was in my control. I knew I had to find a way to ease my thoughts or it would continue to have a devastating effect on my body. That’s when it came back to me. The conversation I’d once had with that yoga enthusiast replayed in my mind. Maybe it was time to accept her invite, I thought.
I looked at it one of two ways: I could take a prescription that could only help me deal with symptoms or I could try a natural practice that would actually enable me with coping skills instead of pacifying my challenges.
Yoga saved me…
It only took one class for me to fall in love with yoga. I remember entering my very first class skeptically. I didn’t “speak the yoga language” and Lord knows I wasn’t that flexible. Yet and still, everyone in the class welcomed me.
At the beginning of the class, the instructor started with a message that blew my mind. She calmed the fears of all of the newcomers like myself. She told us that everyone has different goals in yoga - - for some it’s a health thing and for others it’s a mind thing. She went on to encourage us to find our own meaning. The best part was her telling us that yoga is not a competition of who is most flexible because we all move at our different paces. Instead, she encouraged us to listen to our bodies and experience our own unique journeys.
I was amazed at how accepting and encouraging a practice could be. I took to yoga eagerly. Since my first class, I have learned so much. I can feel the strengthening of muscles and can even do yoga poses like “crow” that I never thought I would be able to accomplish. Yet and still the biggest reward for me has been learning how to calm myself down enough to enjoy living in the “now”. Before yoga, I didn’t know how beautiful life was. To relax and enjoy being “in the moment” is a true gift.
If I could go back in time, I would have taken up yoga way sooner.
Words from an Experience Yoga Instructor (interview)
Due to a recent move in location, I have now relocated to Gold’s Gym where I have been able to attend yoga sessions with Rebecca Behner. Reigning from the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, Rebecca moved to NC to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Though she has a daytime job on the campus of UNCC, her passion for yoga is evident and can be felt each class. With much experience, patience, and grace she is hands down one of the greatest yoga instructors I have ever met. She welcomes everyone that attends class and always maintains a kind spirit.
I had the privilege of connecting with her during an interview and here is what she had to say:
SimplyMei: “When did you fall in love with yoga?”
Rebecca: “I have a black belt in Taekwondo. I was really good at it but I wanted to try something new. One day I was invited out to yoga and decided to try it. My life hasn’t been the same since. I fell in instant love with yoga. I obtained my certification not too long after and have been instructing for years now.”
SimplyMei: “Many people don’t believe there are benefits to yoga. What would you say to that?”
Rebecca: “I would never force anyone to think in any specific way. I can only encourage an open mind but if something makes you extremely uncomfortable in life period - - do not fee