Friday, February 26, 2016

How my mat saved me

Hello readers! I know that I have not been giving this blog the wonderful attention it deserves and that this post is not about a recipe. However, I have been feeling very inspired and came to realize the role that my yoga practice plays in my life. The other day, in the midst of a wonderful yoga flow, I had an epiphany about how yoga has changed me. Yoga, you have saved my life.
Many of you may know this and many of you may not, but I struggled with anorexia for several years. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly sparked my anorexia, it is all quite foggy to me. The progression from "diet" to "disorder" went by like a blink of an eye. At my worst, I was drastically underweight and slowly killing myself.
It wasn't until my junior year of college that I began to fully break down. My anorexic body and mind got lovely friends called depression and anxiety. I distinctly remember calling my mom from my dorm room, tears streaming down my face, begging her to help me. She told me "Marissa, if you keep up like this, you are going to die." To which I replied, "I would rather die than gain another pound." The words startled me as soon as I had said them. My mom told me that I needed to find a way to be happy again. I needed to remember why I am in school, I needed to remind myself of all the things I wanted for myself. This was, without a doubt, one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I liken this experience to running a marathon. (Not that I have ran a marathon, but this is how I imagine it). You have to stay strong mentally and remind yourself of that finish line. You have to go through that hell to experience that glory. Here is where my mat comes in...
My daily practice allowed me to see what my body could do. As my wonderful yoga teacher, Anna, once said, "yoga is a way for us to use our bodies to heal our minds." I was able to use my body (something I had hated, something I had criticized and yelled at) to get to a better mental state. My body was my friend. I had to say it over and over to myself, my body was my friend. More than that, I am not just my body. Yes our bodies are important and act as our vessels, but I am not my body. I am a soul that has a body. Before I knew it, I found that my panic attacks were less frequent. I had gained back the weight, and was learning to accept it. I was becoming the woman that I had wanted to be: resilient, strong, beautiful, smart, funny and loving. I was becoming who I always was but was never able to see.
Like I had mentioned, I had an epiphany about all that yoga has done for me. Yoga has made a lover and a fighter. It has made me a lover in the fact that I have not only learned to love myself and my body but love others. I am mindful of all the simple things that bring me joy: the sunshine, candles, good coffee, kisses and hugs from my husband, my mom's loving words, etc. I became a lover of love. A lover of life. I am now one of those people that stops to smell the roses (or the weeds, 'cause who are we to say that a flower is merely a weed...). I feel so lucky everyday to be alive. To be living this amazing life that I get to lead.
Yoga also made me a fighter in the sense that I fight for my life everyday. For those who have anorexia or have had anorexia understand that it is an ongoing battle. Some days are good, some days not so much. Through my yoga practice, I am able to tell those bad thoughts to go elsewhere. I am able to be a fighter and a warrior (like those yoga poses) and fight for my right for a happy life. I used to feel hopeless. If something unfortunate happened to me, I would accept it and say "figures, everything bad happens to me." Yoga gave me the power to say "Yes this situation is not great, but this situation is only temporary. This too shall pass and you will get through."
Yoga, I have no words for you other than "thank you". Thank you for allowing me to see the light when I felt like my life was complete darkness. Thank you for helping me become a more loving person so that I am able to be the wife my husband deserves. Thank you for helping me see the completely, utterly beautiful world that we live in and for helping me see that I make the world better being a part of it. Thank you, thank you.