THE TRUTH ABOUT MY YOGA JOURNEY
For a while I hesitated...
to share the details of my health journey this past year, and how it led me to teaching yoga. It’s much easier to just share about how I am passionate about yoga and that I felt called to teach others. However, this past year I’ve connected with amazing women and business owners that have vulnerably shared with me the powerful stories behind the organizations and businesses they’ve created, and they have all inspired me to share my “why”. My own truth and story about why I am so passionate about yoga is a personal story about how yoga has helped transform my health, my relationship to my own body, and my ability to cope with stress and anxiety.
Rewind back to about a year ago, I was in and out of the doctor’s office on a weekly basis, getting poked and prodded for multiple tests. On the outside I looked like a normal, healthy, 24 year old. But on the inside I felt like my body was falling apart. Most mornings I woke up exhausted after a good night of sleep, and I frequently felt nauseous and dizzy, with random anxiety attack flare ups. I had almost fainted twice within a few months, with no clear cause. I had initially ignored my symptoms, deciding that I was just exhausted all the time because I was a busy person working sixty plus hours a week. However the symptoms kept getting worse, and a little voice inside me told me that it wasn’t normal to feel so drained all the time, despite the busy culture we live in. So I begrudgingly went to the doctor’s office and shared my list of concerns. My doctors came back to me saying that I had a severe vitamin D deficiency, anxiety, possibly GI inflammation (tests were inconclusive), and presyncope (fancy way of saying I got dizzy and lightheaded which sometimes led to fainting). They were unsure of what to do besides prescribing me vitamin D supplements and telling me to monitor my symptoms to see if things got worse. I was stressed out, going through my mid-twenties crisis of trying to figure out what career path I wanted to choose, and confused by these health issues that seemed to have no clear cause or resolution.
Frustrated, I decided to do my own research and start healing my body on my own. I wanted to figure out a way to nurture my body back to health, a way that was more intuitive and holistic. I delved into books and research on food allergies and sensitivities, and I figured out what foods my body was sensitive to. While I didn’t have any severe food allergies, being aware of what foods were aggravating my digestive system helped me to avoid them. I also started making more meals at home so that I knew whole fresh ingredients were in my meals. I added acupuncture and Chinese herbs into my regimen, and started supplementing with vitamins. I reluctantly cut down on coffee, which I was surprised to find was aggravating my anxiety. Suddenly I was experience less of my heart racing anxiety attacks, and feeling less of an energy crash from consuming so much caffeine. I started practicing more yoga and meditation (it went slowly from “casual” to “full time” status) and transitioned from fast paced Vinyasa flow classes to slower Hatha yoga. I learned how to take full deep breaths, and how to catch myself when I was letting my anxiety get the best of me. I made it a priority to take time to go outside and get sunlight, so that I wasn’t only relying on vitamin D supplements to fix my deficiency. I noticed how much my body craved sunlight and fresh air, and how much more energized I felt after a quick walk outside. I was surprised how lots of small changes made a big difference in how I felt, and how my journey through these symptoms had led me to truly listen to my body and its needs.
It was slow progress, but most of my symptoms started to fade away as the months went by. I currently haven’t had a presyncope attack since last year, my stomach inflammation has subsided for the most part (unless I eat certain triggering foods), and my stress levels and anxiety are now manageable and are so much better than before. Obviously some health issues require more serious methods of healing, but I share my story to say that it is possible to start healing your body on your own, using yoga and mindfulness as a way to lower stress and connect with your body. Yoga has been pivotal in the transformation of my relationship with my body from one of control to one of compassion. I started out on my health journey by approaching my health issues aggressively, trying to figure out how to fix my body and change it. Yoga helped me realize how disconnected I was from my physical body, and how taking the time to connect with my body led me to a better understanding of my health. Approaching my body with compassion meant taking things slow, not expecting changes overnight, and forgiving myself when I made decisions that were detrimental to my health. I’m so grateful to have found yoga and stuck with it throughout the years. My health journey this past year has taught me that my body is capable of healing if I give it the time, space, and nourishment that it craves.