What does yoga mean to you?
How has your yoga practice affected your life?
I should ask this question of every yogi I meet for the rest of my life and I will die inspired and anything but bored.
Asisstant General Manager at Haven on the Lake
Blogger at The Fermented Sole
I've been a practicing yoga lover for the last ten years, mostly as a physical practice in an attempt to stave off injury from my running and active lifestyle. In November 2013 I was involved in a mid-air plane collision while skydiving and my practice changed dramatically as a result. I feel like yoga is typically a very personal experience for each person, and for each practice; and after my accident, my practice became very much more a method of recovery... almost a desperate call to save myself, to quiet my mind, and to find peace and strength. To practice.
Practice, by definition, is a habit. A condition arrived at by experience. Repeated performance.
I can never stop practicing. By doing so, I recognize that there is no “end game” or “arrival.” I will always be practicing. I will always continue to learn. I will never stop learning. Again, no end game, no arrival. I think this is what happiness should be… a constant practice. There will not be a destination called happiness. There is practice.
When I started practicing yoga more frequently, I began to learn about honoring yourself where you are; which also takes practice… on and off the mat. Honor yourself when you are happy. Honor the place you find yourself in when you are not particularly happy. Honor yourself when you are completely pissed off and want to throw things in rage… the pendulum will continue to swing. Honor that place when you find your space to balance and nail the forearm stand you thought would elude your practice forever. Honor the forward fold when you can not seem to reach the mat without bending your knees.
A little more than three years later - now, to our current day, I'm thrilled to be extending my practice to include Yoga Teacher Training. I wrote a little bit about my experience recently, on the three year anniversary of our plane crash (which ended up being extremely therapeutic!) and you can read a little more about it, it includes a link to the actual GoPro footage from my helmet, as well as four of my friends who were jumping with me that day ( https://thefermentedsole.com/2016/11/02/miracle-11/ ). Speaking of, and in the spirit of the poem you shared, we had the GoPro video footage of the entire accident and all of us agreed on the night of the accident that none of us would take any money from this experience. Whatever money comes from the licensing of our videos will go to others through non-profit donations.
In doing so, we annually disperse a sum of money to various organizations and causes that are presented and voted on by the remaining six members of the Miracle 11 - myself included. To date, we have been able to donate almost $25,000 as a result of licensing the footage of our accident to various media outlets. Charities and organizations such as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education in Minnesota, Essentia’s Children’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, Damiano Center in Duluth as well as CHUM emergency shelter and homeless drop-in center in northern Minnesota, Duluth Aviation Institute STEM Project, EAA 272 Sedan Project, Harbor House Crisis Shelters, Duluth Firefighters Operation Warm, and more recently the Girls on the Run of Central Maryland (we're trying to branch out of Minnesota after my husband and I moved here in July 2015).
Regional Manager at Free to Breathe
Barre Instructor at M.Power Yoga Studio and Rev Cycle Studio
Long story short, after losing both of my parents, both unexpectedly, over the last 5 years, yoga has been a huge saving grace for me, and has helped me thru my grief, which continues to this day. In fact, after my Dad passed away from a stroke (2 years ago next week), going to yoga was the only thing that got me out of the house for those first couple of weeks.
My yoga practice has come full circle, after finding a lung cancer nonprofit organization last year called Free to Breathe, which was launching a new yoga event in Baltimore to help raise money for critically needed lung cancer research (my mom passed from lung cancer). Flash forward to August, when I ended up joining the Free to Breathe staff full time to help grow the yoga event series and help raise money to support research so that, one day, lung cancer survival will be the expectation and not the exception. Around the same time I found Free to Breathe, I had also enrolled in Lindsay Lusignea’s 200hr yoga teacher training, which I completed in July, and one of my huge goals is to help others use yoga to aid their healing.
I’m excited to share the Baltimore Free to Breathe Yoga Challenge will be returning to the Maryland Zoo this year on Sunday, Aug 20th – I would absolutely love to find some time to either chat on the phone or perhaps meet for coffee so I can share some additional information and opportunities to partner, if you think anyone within your community might be interested in participating in this awesome day full of hope, inspiration, and celebration of the power of breath.
Owner of DTM Fitness
Teaches yoga, meditation, Myofascial Release, and SMRT Core at Main Street Yoga
Teaches TRX at Haven on the Lake
Teaches Cycling and TRX at Eagle Fitness Center
Combat Veteran and Active Duty Service Member
After a combat injury, I was told I'd never walk again. I physically rehabilitated myself, unwilling to accept my doctor's diagnosis. After 2 years, I was running a 6-minute mile and in the best shape of my life. However, the anxiety and depression from my PTSD were not subsiding. I kept failing in relationships, I couldn't keep friends, I was a downer and had anger issues. When I moved to Maryland, I found yoga out of luck. I was a runner and moved from the dry Arizona climate to this one, and was seeking a way to acclimate myself to the humidity; so started taking hot yoga classes. What started as a physical practice to satisfy my ego, evolved to a mental and spiritual practice that has transformed me from the outside, in. Not only did the physical pain from arthritic joints, broken bones, and scar tissue start subsiding; but once I started slowing down my practice and moving more mindfully, I began to notice the haze that I had accepted as "Dan", starting to lift. The "normal" that I once lived, started to get redefined everyday. Yoga and meditation, more than counseling, therapy, and medication, have helped me acheive a state of bliss and quiet. For the first time I feel like I am in control of my mind.
Now, I am a yoga teacher myself! I volunteer my time to teach yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to other wounded warriors. I want them to have the opportunity to experience the love for themselves.
I see a theme here.
Yoga heals. It heals you in ways you do not expect and it allows you to see the beauty in life as it is. To be here, right now. To remember the past but not BE it. To allow for growth, change, and new beginnings. To transform. And to pass that healing on to others.
Have these stories inspired you to get back on your mat? GOOD! Now go sign up for a class, take a teacher training, or just unroll that bad boy right on your deck, the weather is begging for it!