I have never met a strong person who has had an easy past. Yoga has taught me that my body and my mind deserve to be treated with respect.
Let’s be honest, we all love Marina, her smile, her strength, and that infectious loud laugh. It’s almost impossible not to smile when you see her name in your e-mail in-box, until she asks you to be student of the month. Sure, for a split second you think you’re all that, but then your crown gets knocked off your head by a tidal wave of insecurity. I have a hard time saying no to anyone, but without hesitation I gave our sweet Marina a hard NO THANKS. I took Marina’s class more often after that, and months later, I decided to “be a yes.” For those of you on deck, she guides you with a few questions about your journey to yoga. Here is mine.
3 Day Workshop
with Kerry Armstrong
FRIDAY, APRIL 26th – Sunday, April 28th
My best friend has practiced in a Rochester studio for ten years. We talk every day; we love the same clothes, music, parenting style, Netflix shows, cocktails — the list goes on until you get to yoga. No matter how many times she tried to sell me on yoga, I was not buying. Not only did I have zero desire to try yoga, I was annoyed by “yoga people.” They’re addicted; constantly celebrating how they mastered some pose with a name I can’t pronounce. And does their mat really need to be in their car all the time? These “yogis” must have way too much time on their hands.
I certainly didn’t have time for that; I was too busy trying to avoid the next eruption. That’s what you do when you live inside a circle of abuse. My time wasn’t spent soul-searching or seeking deeper consciousness on a mat. It was spent, as a passenger on a toxic roller-coaster. When you live in that kind of environment you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You learn the highs fade into a walking on eggshells phase, always trying to keep everything calm, but soon the anger and disrespect return. I’d like to say you learn a lot about yourself when you live in that kind of environment, that you become strong, but you really don’t have time to learn anything.
After 17 years, I decided that my daughters and I deserved a healthy environment. Through a year of transition, while existing in constant flight or fight mode, we finally settled into a new normal. With the support of my family and many amazing friends, I began to see signs of the person I used to be – the strong, ambitious, fun Julie.
The road is not always smooth, and I now know that just because I felt energized, free, and alive again, it didn’t mean I was immune from being hurt. I was an expert in understanding how words can hurt, but then I learned a hard lesson in the level of pain you can feel when trust is broken. It was at this point, I felt broken, and everyone who knew me felt it. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I functioned only because I had to for my daughters. My amazing new neighbor walked with me every night, and told me about MBFY. She never spoke about the physical aspect of it, but more about the mental support it provides her. I thought maybe, just maybe I would give it a try to see if it would help.
My first class I was clueless. Where was this Zen feeling? All I did was try to keep up with some cute girl in front of me. Not only did I not know the moves, I didn’t understand half of the language my instructor used. I did however stop feeling sad for those 75 minutes and dare I say proud of myself for showing up. So I continued to show up. Every class I took, I saw improvements on and off my mat. I realized I was no longer the old Julie; I was creating a stronger, more authentic version of myself.
Both my daughters and I are now in our second year at MBFY. After every class, our ride home is filled with lessons the teacher’s share. There are so many MBFY lessons, phrases and words of encouragement I refer to on a daily basis. One of my favorites is what are you going to be a yes to?
Practicing yoga has changed my life. Trust me; if you know me, you know I do not exist in a Zen state, far from it. But yoga has become a necessity for me, and even though sometimes life gets in the way, I crave it. I crave the workout, the music (shout out to Angela’s playlists), and the community. I crave the peace I feel while I’m there and the more I go, the longer that peace stays with me off the matt. One of the things I like most about yoga is that you can never plateau, just like life; your practice will continuously change and grow. I have never met a strong person who has had an easy past. Yoga has taught me that my body and my mind deserve to be treated with respect.
I still haven’t mastered a headstand, and I’ll never be perfect, but at least now I’m brave.
Yes, my mat is now a permanent fixture in my car.