Have you ever sat in a yoga class nervous at first, looking over your shoulder at everyone else in the room? Maybe thinking…..Am I wearing the right outfit? Who is looking at me? I don’t know anyone in this room. Am I going to have to do uncomfortable poses? Will I be able to do the poses? Will I be able to keep up? Am I in the right class? Is the instructor forgiving if I “mess up”? Do I have the right props? The questions might possibly go on and on……
………until at last, the room quiets down and all eyes are on the instructor. Who then leads you into a quiet place with her voice, having given you permission to close your eyes. To rest your hands palms up on your legs which are uncomfortably placed in “easy pose”. “Easy for who?” You might ask. Your legs are going numb, your back hurts so bad!! And we are only five minutes into the class. Your mind might possibly be racing again. Now wondering how anyone in their right mind would want to put themselves through an hour of this!!!
But alas, we get to open our eyes…..
Once my eyes popped open, it was exhausting just breathing! My labored breath was suffocating me. My mind racing back to a vivid moment in time…..
……….I found myself quickly gathering up a few possessions, the diaper bag, ever so quietly the car keys, my purse, hoping with all hope that my three month old baby would not wake up screaming as I safely placed him in the baby capsule and then out through the squeaky front door, into the car. I was running away again! Running from the anger, horrid language, abuse! Pleading with God that my drunken husband would stay passed out on the couch in the other room. My heart was racing so fast, I was sure the sound of my heart alone would have awakened the man. I flew out of the house only with the thought, “Get away, get to safety!” I started the car, so loud in the quiet night! My husband suddenly at the front door yelling as I sped away!! Heart pounding out of my chest. Please God, let me get away with my baby!!
I arrived at some friends’ house, hoping they were home and could provide shelter for the two of us. They sheltered us until it was no longer safe for their large family to do so. They too, afraid of an aftermath from my husband.
We moved again, into the home of an incredibly gracious family. They took us under their wings. Countless, anxious, sleepless nights. They housed me without my husbands knowledge for a time. When he found out where I was, I was terrified to be alone. I would take long walks hoping for some sanity, pushing my baby in the stroller. Only to discover that I was incapable of relaxing. I was listening for his truck, on the look-out for his white truck, constantly on edge, walking on paths where he would not see me from the road if he happened by, my phone handy if I needed to call the police, looking over my shoulder every few seconds. The sound of the birds, a twig, a critter scurrying by in the weeds…. all making me jump, completely paranoid! It was time to move on again into the home of another amazing woman.
During this time I was encouraged to join a gym. For a small break, an avenue to take my mind from all of the anxiety, fear and worry. To no longer walk the streets alone for my sanity sake. I found a gym that had a child care facility. Perfect, I was able to leave my baby in the protection of child care staff, pressing the point that no one was to leave the facility with my baby other than me. I gave the staff a physical description and name of my husband and direct orders to please immediately escort him out of the building if he happened to find out where I was.
This gym is where I experienced my first of many yoga classes. The description of a yoga student entering a class above……my very own thoughts. My self-esteem was so low, my self-worth next to nothing. My gaze always downward, my heart heavy, feeling lost, alone, empty. My husband had recently signed legal documents that did not allow me to leave Australia with my child to go visit my family in America. I had to come to terms, knowing that I would for sure see my family again one day in heaven.
I returned to yoga class week after week, feeling much the same. But slowly, over time, I begin to build a sense of community, a bit of confidence. The yoga instructor so quiet, reading my life by the very way I held myself. I was with a loving, non-judgmental group of unique individuals. All there to support and encourage each person who entered into the sanctuary.
One beautiful woman, dressed in white, looking like a breath of heaven, like an angel…..came to the class each week. I always noticed her. Longing to share my pain but too afraid to speak out. I never spoke a word of the violence, fear, and abuse I had been experiencing to anyone.
At last, my favorite part of the yoga class, resting in savasana at the end of the practice for a few minutes in time. I was sinking into the earth, held by the earth, letting go, attempting to rest my mind, tears escaping down my temples, into my ears…..the yoga teacher gently massaging my neck. Breathing effortlessly, my muscles relaxing at last. And the angelic woman in white, reaching for my hand. She held my fingers gently, extending love to me, a motherly touch, pouring her breath into me. Tears rolling down my face now, safe for this moment in time, giving me courage to go on.
So why yoga??? You might ask. So many reasons, but today I share with you my roots, my strength, the foundation in what I love.