how death has made me live
They say when someone dies you are irrevocably changed - that a part of you dies as well. That may be true, but for me, it’s also the day that a part of me came to life.
My mom died the day before she was due to be released from the hospital. December 14th, 2015. I was 36. That was the day my life changed.
That was the day I began to find the real me. Her death sent me on a journey to become something I never thought I would be - a Yoga Teacher.
I know you’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal about that? Isn’t everyone and their dog pretty much a yoga teacher these days? Well, mainly because I’m a big ‘ol introvert, who is not comfortable with public speaking - let alone teaching people!
For around a decade I’d been doing yoga on and off, every once in a while. But after my mom passed, I turned to yoga to help me cope with my grief. On January 1st, 2016, I started doing daily yoga at home thanks to online yoga, and I made a promise to myself to continue with it every day. This helped give my mind a few minutes out of my day to take a welcome break from my swirling and grief-filled thoughts. It was like taking a time out for my soul, and I found it so therapeutic.
Over the next year of daily practice, I made the decision to take yoga teacher training due to the impact yoga had on my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. If you’d asked me at any time before that that I’d become a yoga and meditation teacher, I would have laughed in your face! But on March 12th, 2017, I completed my 250 hour, six-month yoga teacher training (and would go on to later do further training in restorative yoga for chronic pain management and trauma-sensitive yoga for a total of 390 hours of training.
2,509 days later I’m still doing daily yoga. Sometimes it’s only 5 minutes or a quick practice seated on the couch or in bed if I don’t have the time or energy or aren’t feeling well, but no matter what, I get it done. I also teach it part-time to co-workers at my day job, and after every class my students (I have students!) thank me and tell me how much better they feel than they did before they walked into class. They feel more relaxed, more focused, less stressed and just more ready to tackle the rest of their day.
I feel that the benefits of yoga and sharing those benefits with others outweighs my introvertedness. It is the real me shining through, trying to make even just the tiniest difference in other people’s lives - to teach them and give them the tools to improve their own lives like yoga has improved mine.
Along with my daily meditation practice that I started as part of my initial yoga teacher training, it’s helped me through the ups and downs and through other losses I’ve experienced since my mom’s death - that of my beloved fur-son of 15 years, Bailey our Border Collie, because we don’t have kids; my grandma at the beginning of the pandemic at the ripe old age of 95; my aunt of cancer at 62 in January 2021 and the unexpected passing of my uncle at 73 in June of this year as well. Throughout it all has been my daily yoga and meditation practice to support me. My constant companion.
It’s hard to fully describe the life-changing impact the simple act of moving and breathing in an intentional and focused way has had on me. It’s inscrutable.
I believe it’s what has allowed the true and authentic me, hidden under all my introverted and homebody tendencies, to shine through. It’s given me the gift of helping not only myself but also others in a way I never thought possible.
Most importantly it has become a remarkably real part of who I am.
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