It has been a few months since I have had a guest post for my This Body Can series. You get busy, life happens and suddenly months go by. However, I knew that I wanted to have a guest post for January 2017. We all know people are making their New Year Resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, tone up, etc. There are weight loss challenges and new year, new you posts popping up all over the place. Not many things drive me more crazy than these silly New Year Resolutions. You don’t need to work on a new you, but you can work on a better you. Focusing on scale numbers shouldn’t be part of your goal, but focusing on getting stronger is a great goal…you get the point. This month’s post is from my friend Judi. I met her in 2014 and I was drawn to her for her honesty and passion for what she believes in. Her post is a bit different from past This Body Can posts, but when she sent it over for me to read I loved it. Her story shares that you can be vulnerable and strong AF at the same time, that movement is so much more about taking care of yourself and others than a number on the scale. Thank you so much Judi for sharing your story, and for the first This Body Can guest post of 2017.
I was a binge drinker, and a good one at that. My “good times” would often start on a Thursday night and last until late Sunday. At the time, I thought this was perfectly normal.
(Everyone parties in their twenties, right?)
(Everyone parties in their thirties, right?)
But as time marched on, it became more and more difficult to ignore the constant hangovers I found myself battling and the resulting lackluster performance at work, and life in general. Ironically, I was able to maintain a fitness regime in the face of all the unhealthiness in my life. I would climb on a treadmill Monday mornings and spend hours on it in an attempt to punish my body for my weekend shenanigans and sweat out all the alcohol. If that last sentence made you cringe, is should – hungover runs are absolutely awful – but I was caught in a cycle I refused to leave…until I did.
Everything shifted when I met the man that would become my husband. Aaron and I went out on a Friday night in May 2011. I knew he was sober and during our date I didn’t drink because I wanted to remember every single second of my night with this man. I had a great time; a great time unclouded by alcohol. The next night I had plans to go out drinking with friends. I went, but went home early. I decided that night I was done drinking. I had, had a fantastic night with a man the night before sans alcohol and I wanted more of that. That’s where the recovery started, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I needed to connect with who I was and the person I wanted to be without alcohol. I decided to take a chance.
Yoga was the main instrument in my liberation from alcohol. I hit a yoga mat only 2 months sober, in a haze. My first class was a heated, power vinyasa class. I wore a sweat shirt, sweat pants, and brought no water. It was humbling to say the least. Something shifted inside of me after that class. I had a taste of what it meant to connect mind, body, and spirit. I knew I wanted more.
Yoga provided me with movement to tap into my strength and the stillness to heal from my past. I began a journey towards becoming a yogi.
After a few years of diligent practice, I became a yoga assistant because I wanted to try and pass on to others what yoga had been passing to me. I eventually heard about yoga teacher training and I knew I wanted in. But I was terrified. I wasn’t the picture of a “perfect” yogi you see in the trendy magazine articles. I couldn’t flip upside down. I couldn’t do ALL the poses. In spite of that initial insecurity I continued to take a chance and with the encouragement of my husband, I participated in a 200 hour teacher training at Solfire Yoga in Sacramento, California.
I realize this might be cliche, but the experience was life-changing. I unlocked a passion inside of me that I didn’t know existed. Upon the completion of my teaching training I neatly folded my mat up and didn’t audition to be a teacher at the studio where I had just been trained. I just didn’t believe in myself enough…yet, though I never exactly came out and said that. I would make really creative excuses to justify not taking the next chance even though I knew full well that I was totally bullshitting myself. I was just scared, but I finally took the next chance.
My first audition was a little awkward. I remember trying to use a soft, airy fairy voice to mimic what I thought a yoga teacher should sound like. It wasn’t me, but the insecurities that I used to mask with alcohol peeked out during my audition, convincing me that I had to be someone other than myself to succeed as a yoga teacher. That’s the thing with knocking out an addiction. It can surface in other places and sometimes at inopportune times, like during a yoga teacher audition. It wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the best. I knew it and they knew it.
With the encouragement of Solfire’s owners, the women who trained me and knew me well, I returned for a second shot six months later. During those six months leading up to my audition, I practiced, taught more with friends, and devoted myself to a meditation and journaling practice. These things became a recipe that I used to not only grow into becoming a yoga teacher, but to become more present and self-aware.
My second yoga teacher audition just felt different – not just because of all the practicing I had done. It was because I was genuinely and unapologetically me. I realized that my confidence didn’t need to come from outsiders thinking I was the best yoga teacher, but from believing I was doing the best job I could as a yoga teacher. This audition ended much differently than the first. I was offered a substitute teacher position that grew into a permanent spot on the Solfire roster.
Before every class I have a ritual. I thank the universe for letting me survive what was a rough recovery. I thank my friends and family for the amazing support they have provided me through the years. And I thank my body, my vessel that has carried me through the darkest of times, pushing forward towards the bright.
(yoga photos provided by Jewel Photography)