Please meet Carrie Rusin. She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. She has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates Handstand Pose (Ado Mukha Vrksasana).
Carrie Shares Her Yoga Journey
I guess when I really look back and dig into my past, I realize my journey began long ago when I was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 18. My parents were separated at the time, when we lost my mother suddenly in a house fire, Christmas morning 2001.
Absolutely life altering for me and my entire family.
After that, I began to struggle with overwhelming guilt, worry, and resentment, which turned into anger and ultimately daily anxiety.
They wanted to medicate me, but I said no.
I then became self-destructive and shut down as I suppressed all my feelings. I was in my mid-20s when I moved away to California and I started seeking alternative ways to heal and deal with all this weight I was carrying.
A lot began to surface…much more than I bargained for. I began realizing I had hardened myself to avoid vulnerability.
I was afraid to have to feel that pain again.
I wasn’t ready to let anyone in.
I was impatient and quick to judge, but not just to others around me, but mostly to myself.
I was creating limits and negative thoughts about myself and I didn’t even know it.
I have always been one to seek alternative methods, so naturally, I was drawn to the more healthy approach, promising myself not to use harmful methods to treat my issues. I started to play around with yoga out west, but it really wasn’t until 2011, that I began to dedicate myself to yoga.
That’s when I first met Marina at a 6 AM heated flow class. I’ll never forget it. I was into it…even at 6 AM!
Then, my daughter was born and practice slowly got put on the back burner.
Fast forward to 2016 when I found Marina again, now at her very own studio, Mind Body Flow Yoga. I was ecstatic, to say the least because I was looking for a new studio to join and I just adore her and her teaching style.
I started working on getting my physical strength back, taking as many classes as I could.
It felt great. I was on the up.
Then, I ruptured my tendon in my metacarpal, on my right hand, and was recommended reconstructive surgery.
I don’t do hospitals or medical procedures. I don’t like to lose control, remember.
I gave birth to my daughter at home and have somehow avoided any major medical issues throughout my life, thankfully.
Well, a six-week recovery turned into six months. It wasn’t until two months after my surgery, that I was able to even attempt to return to Mind Body Flow Yoga.
It wasn’t pretty, well to me, that is. Complications made it near impossible for me to even do downward facing dog. My self-doubt was at an all-time high again, but every time I showed up for class, I was greeted with Marina’s infectious smile and light. She helped me modify to fit my body‘s needs, and worked with me to regain my strength.
Whether I came to my mat once a week or five times a week, I always left feeling 100 times better than when I walked in the door.
My practice at that time was giving me my confidence back.
Then another unexpected life changer occurred. I lost two loved ones last summer. Wow. Another test.
My body was failing me and now this grief?
At this point, the only thing I had to hang onto my sanity was yoga. It seemed that each day I showed up to my mat, the passage read that day resonated, as if it was speaking deliberately to me. It was then, and actually quite recently, that I have seen how yoga has really transformed my life.
Each pose has its way of teaching us about ourselves, not only physically, but mentally.
When we want to flee from those uninvited and uncomfortable situations and what we tell ourselves in those moments, really began to surface and I found myself fleeing all sorts of things in my life.
Handstand, for example, has taught me focus and how to not allow fear to depict my true ability.
It isn’t about how strong I think I am or am not, it’s about connecting with every bit of yourself and holding yourself together.
Some days are certainly easier than others. That’s what yoga has taught me – to get out of my own head, trust the process, and be present!
As Marina says, “practice not perfect!”
This journey of self-awareness and healing has only just begun for me.
And funny, once again, Marina, and this yoga practice has exercised my mind and soul to just be able to come out of my own mind and fears to write this. It’s like I’ve just shed another layer of skin.
I am beyond grateful to the Mind Body Flow Yoga community for being so encouraging and loving. And to Marina, for showing me true self love.
You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
I have so much love and gratitude for my on-going practice, and this beautiful community I get to share it with.
We appreciate Carrie for who she is and for what she shared.
What stood out the most for you in Carrie’s journey? Please share it below to let Carrie know you appreciated her story.
What is this Pose About?
This is an arm balancing pose, which improves balance. The resulting shape is a deep opening and stretch in the arms, wrists, spine, and belly. Watch Carrie enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
- Start in downward facing dog. With your fingertips an inch or two away from a wall, hands shoulder-width. If your shoulders are tight, turn your index fingers out slightly; otherwise arrange them parallel to each other. If you’re uneasy about this pose, you’re not alone. To ready yourself for and secure yourself in this inversion, firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone. Then rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad, and hug your outer arms inward. Finally, spread your palms and press the bases of the index fingers firmly against the floor.
- Bend one knee and step the foot in, closer to the wall (we’ll say it’s the left leg), but keep the other (i.e. right) leg active by extending through the heel. Then take a few practice hops before you try to launch yourself upside down. Sweep your right leg through a wide arc toward the wall and kick your left foot off the floor, immediately pushing through the heel to straighten the left knee. As both legs come off the ground, engage your deep core abdominal muscles to help lift your hips over your shoulders. Hop up and down like this several times, each time pushing off the floor a little higher. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged. Exhale deeply each time you hop.
- Repeat with the opposite leg. Eventually, the kick and momentum will get hips stacked above shoulders and you get air time. Keep everything engaged – hands press firmly into the floor, shoulder blades squeeze together, shoulders away from the ears down the back, inner thighs drawn towards each other, abdominal muscles engaged, and feet flexed with toes spread.
- Strengthens the shoulders, arms, and wrists
- Stretches the belly
- Improves sense of balance
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Modify or avoid this pose if you have back, shoulder, or neck injury, headache, heart condition, high blood pressure, or menstruation. If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it late into pregnancy. Don’t, however, take up the practice of Adho Mukha Vrksasana after you become pregnant.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?