What Yoga Means to Me

Written by Lianne Raymond.

The word yoga can generate so many different ideas among people. 'Lululemon' pants, monks, slow, boring, pain, peace, gentle, and the list goes on. It's easy to put yoga in a box when all you know is the pop-cultural craze that surrounds it. I had my own warped sense of the word until it changed my life.

yoga girl

I was in my mid-20's when a vigorous explosion of transformation occurred. I moved from a small-town to a crazy bustling city full of opportunity, got myself a permanent full-time job straight away, was living on my own for the first time, it looked like I had it all figured out. But I didn't.

Amidst the overwhelming life events, something else changed. This change was rather unwelcome: a break-up. Suddenly, my boyfriend of two years was no longer a part of my life. The decision to break-up, albeit the right one, broke my heart and depleted me of energy. I had to force my (what felt like) life-less body out of bed to go to work everyday, paint a fake smile on my face for 8 hours, only to sink straight back into bed the minute I got home. I sometimes took long baths in which I found myself sobbing because I couldn't remember how to handle my life without him.

Then I decided to take a yoga class. Very apprehensive about it as I walked to the local studio with my brand-new purple mat in hand, I thought to myself "I hope, if anything this gets my mind off the sour things in life for an hour", and that's how I entered the realm of downward dogs and child's poses.

During my first yoga session, I found myself experiencing unfamiliar sensations all over my body and in my mind. Sometimes pain, and other times euphoria.

I'll never forget when the yoga instructor told us to lie down on our back and think of something that made us angry or sad. It could be an upsetting coworker, or a nagging lover ... what came to mind was of course my recent failed relationship. I couldn't believe it. Here I was told to visualize the very thing I came to forget. A huge ball of sadness came upon me and I found myself on the brink of tears, on the floor, surrounded by strangers. But after several deep breaths the instructor said, "notice how you feel in this very moment" and I surprisingly felt fine. This meditative process taught me to let go, it was further proof that wounds heal and negative feelings eventually fade from the soul.

Addicted to the positive effects from each yoga session, I've decided to make it a ritual and practice at least three times a week or more. I embrace it 100% and find that it follows me beyond the yoga mat.

Yoga has helped me live in the present and let go of the past. Don't get me wrong, there are still some uphill battles in my life. But I can control unpleasant feelings when they arise. I take a deep breath and let it pass.

I can now safely say that yoga means peace, love, balance, and a whole new appreciation for life.