This is written by guest blogger/yogini Bridget. Bridget is a super rad Yoga Loft yogi. We share a love for handstands and all things arm balance.
When Cassi asked me to write a guest post on her blog, I asked her what it should be about. Her response was, “It can be whatever you want. As long as it has something to do with yoga.” Well, that’s open-ended! I could write about how I love doing handstands and various other inversions, but I think the best place for me to start is how I actually found yoga, and how it’s helped me heal.
Almost three years ago, my father and grandmother passed away exactly one week apart from each other. To say it was hard on me is a grotesque understatement. At the time, I was working roughly 90 to 100 hours a week, at a huge company, where I typically felt like I made no difference. It was a job, straight out of college, that paid my bills and allowed me to party with my friends on the weekend, but it was not fulfilling. What I did not know at the time was that the worst week of my life would also be the best thing that’s happened to me during my 28 years.
I know; you’re thinking WHAT?! How can that possibly be the best thing that happened to you? No, I am not happy my family members are not here. However, every cloud has a silver lining, so doesn’t it make sense that the darkest clouds have the most brilliant silver of them all? After they passed, I took about a month off of work, and watched the entire World Cup tournament on TV. I did not work out, or call anyone back, or make any kind of effort to really live; I was existing. When it was time to come back to Chicago, my roommate at the time flew one way from Chicago to Detroit, and rode in the car with me, so I wouldn’t have to be alone. Over the next few months she gently suggested I see a therapist, and since I was constantly drowning in my own tears, I did. It was helpful, but I didn’t feel like I was really healing; I was still breaking down crying when I would go for a run (in an effort to lose the 30 lbs I put on from doing nothing). I had changed my job, too, but didn’t like the people I was working with. They weren’t very accepting and didn’t understand me. They didn’t know about my losses.
The truth of the matter was I didn’t understand myself. I asked myself often, how did I end up here? How can I be happy again? I felt like I was on the outside of my own life, looking in. One morning, after yet another crying spell on the treadmill, I decided enough was enough, and I needed to try something different. There was a 6:30 am Sunrise Yoga class about to start, so I jumped in. I’d never done yoga before and I, like many people, thought it was guided stretching. I’m so happy I was wrong.
That morning didn’t heal me, but it sparked something inside me. I realized very quickly how weak I had become, and how strong these yogis are; I wanted to be strong again. I started going to that class every Wednesday morning, and about a month later I started going every weekend too. I found myself feeling more confident, and taking more responsibility for my own happiness. One of my best friends asked if I wanted to go to a studio in River North for their 2 year anniversary. I went with her, not sure what to expect from a real studio; I’d only practiced a couple of days a week at my gym. That day I realized just how much I needed yoga.
The class was packed, and hot, but everyone was accepting, and willing to make space for someone else to put down their mat. I realized I needed to accept myself exactly as I was; broken, self-conscious but willing to try to put my life back together. I was hooked, and I started going to classes 4 to 6 days a week. I didn’t realize I was changing until after it happened. I noticed I felt strong again; not just physically strong, emotionally and mentally, as well. I was happy and content to be alone (something that used to terrify me). Yoga offered me a warm, open, unbiased space to focus on myself, without judgment, and I loved it. Through yoga, I’ve learned the importance of making yourself happy first, and that you’re responsible for your own happiness. If you’re not happy, change your perspective. Yoga literally offered me the ability to change my perspective. Maybe that’s why I love inversions so much.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t lost my family members that week, I would not have needed yoga, and probably wouldn’t have found it. I can’t remember ever being as happy with myself as I am now, and I have my dad and grandmother to thank for that – what an amazing gift! Although they are never really gone, maybe I needed them to physically leave, so I could make space for something more in my life.