To fully understand yoga and I, I suppose I'll start from the beginning, well kinda...
I moved to Charleston on a whim, having never been before. The transplant came as a suggestion from others - I was told it would be a perfect fit for me at that point in my life. To be completely transparent, that "point" in my life was just being released from a 90-day all women's rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol. Three months prior I had uprooted myself from South Florida, with the help and love from my family, to attempt to take my life back. I was helpless, powerless, and reclusive.
Once in Charleston, I was fortunate enough to be granted a bed in a women's halfway house about ten minutes outside of the beautiful downtown area. I arrived with two large black trash bags full of clothes, a few boxes of scrapbooks and journals from the years, and my bicycle. The "Mother" of the house handed me a $5 bill, a bus schedule, an AA meeting schedule, a list of rules to abide by, and a loving, "you got this girl - figure it out. Don't drink or use".
Some days I took the bus, other days I biked, and when I trained my body to handle to mileage, I ran the ten miles downtown everyday to make meetings, eventually a land a job, and make a life for myself. This was my second chance.
YOGA. Yoga happened on one of those running days. I was jogging King Street, familiarizing myself with my new surroundings when I passed a small studio with flyers of the class schedule out front. There was a FREE community class that day! Since free was all I could afford, I made sure I was standing outside that door when it opened to take it. I was completely out of place in my mismatched loose fit attire and Nike's...shoot, I don't have mat, I thought. Do, I turn and run? All of those thoughts, however, quickly faded away...
Now, to be fair, I had done a little yoga before. My older sister showed me some basic Sun A's and Warrior's one afternoon she visited me in rehab. I could barely chatturanga! I did my handful of moves regularly at the facility, often inviting the other women there. It became really popular and the hour we all looked forward to on a daily basis. But THIS! This studio brought me a whole new purpose.
From the moment we took child's pose and I was able to hear my breath sync with my fellow yogis and soul searchers, I was hooked. I sweat, I cried, I fell, and I had to do a whole lot of looking around to see what the pose called was supposed to look like. As I mentioned before, all those feelings of being the misfit, were gone, as our bodies flowed in unison. I loved every minute. To this day, I will NEVER forget the way this class made me feel. I was going to be OK. Life was going to go on and I would survive it.
I was on fire.
A few free classes later, I approached an instructor there, and without too much detail, (not like I write to you now) I explained how I needed yoga to be in my life, but I couldn't afford it. The next words she spoke were literally music to my ears. They would allow me to clean the studio once a week (laundry, lavender towels, steam clean floors and tidy bathrooms), in exchange for unlimited free yoga. I could not believe this was being offered to me. Did they know what I was capable of? I was the master of manipulation, lies, and messing up anything good that was handed to me. But, they didn't even think twice. I was trusted and welcome there. Granted, I was not the only one they offered this program to, but at that moment I felt as if God, or Higher Power, or Buddha, had shined a light down on me and allowed grace to enter my life that day.
That was about two and a half years ago. My passion for yoga has only grown and I have grown with it. I continue to learn and challenge my body and mind. Yoga provides me discipline to stay when things get uncomfortable and I want to bail (which I SO often feel in life) and I end up walking away stronger and braver for having done so. It has literally cracked me wide open to life's possibilities and a new way of living and being. I am forever grateful for this practice and the grace my heart and soul carry today because of it.