I Let Go: How Yoga Helped Me Heal, And Why I Want To Teach It.
I’ve been putting this off for months now.
When asking myself why, the first thought that came to my mind was, I wanted to collaborate with the perfect words to do justice to my statements. But it’s like sitting in a field of grass and pulling weeds towards oneself with both hands. You can never rip out all the pieces in one try.
When thinking about setting time aside to write this, I saw it as a challenge that stood in front of me, one that had a foreign taste as I meditated upon it. It was not the doing of it. It was the digging.
I knew I was going to have to reach into parts of me that had remained hidden as I scanned the core of something that had recently brought me back to life.
As one reaching into a jar to grasp something desired, there’s always the hesitance or fear that your hand will get stuck on your way back out.
My name is Michelle Sanborn. I am 31 years old. Since the age of 13, running had been my life. For whatever reason, two and a half years ago I stopped. A year and four months ago, I walked into a Yoga studio for the first time.
Spontaneously, I went with an acquaintance, and she introduced me to the fashions of a heated Vinyasa flow at Greener Postures in South Portland, Maine. After my first class, I was intrigued. I knew nothing about Yoga. Nothing. Except maybe that you need a mat to do it.
I had started a new job around that same time, and had to be away for a few weeks of training. I held on to that first impression that nestled itself inside my mind as if to make it a new home. The feeling that I just… felt good after.
I couldn’t wait to go again, and when I got back, I did go. Every day.
It was about two months into Yoga when I began to feel challenged. Although I felt it in the present moments back then, it was recently that I was able to define it.
There were times when I would cry in Shavasana and not know why, other than the reason of being a deeply emotional human being. I was influenced by the instructor’s reading at the end of class — at the end of all that physical movement.
There was movement I had not known about that went beyond the physical. I had begun to slide the veil away from my eyes, and trembling, I chose to not resist the healing that began on the trauma I suffered four years ago.
Four years ago, grief had spilled through my life and traced its fingers around me until I had to eventually turn away from the marks it made from my battling to win any form of relief.
I had turned my face away trying to preserve any truth I could remember that solely belonged to me — that made me, me. I prayed for a new place to start, to begin again. I could not find footing for the dimensions of the pain I carried.
On my mat in Yoga, I accepted that I had a safe place and it was mine. The steps I took in each practice coiled a certainty and trust in myself as time went on. In Yoga there is a shift with every breath, a movement with every breath.
Like the floors of the earth that move beneath us secretly, the floors of our life shift and adjust if we allow it to.
The most challenging article in Yoga for that first year was, and once in a while even now is, allowing myself to create space.
The paralyzing effects of my trauma were revealed to me, and I see now that moving is often painful; however, I have learned that there is a gentleness in a journey as the Universe is trying to rid you of the dark shadows that were so unkindly afflicted upon you.
It gingerly delivers grace, and unfolds the memories of who you once were and the hope that you will one day just become.
Towards the end of a class recently, the instructor said, “Don’t worry. You have so many more opportunities to find your breath,” and I exhaled as I lay on my mat in a pose, acknowledging a valid connection.
All that time, searching for the grounds that would whisper Begin here, start there were dry daydreams, like an echo whose only response is itself. Maybe in life the starting over, the beginning again, is to not stop moving.
It’s the staying in motion of what you do know, and trusting that you will never run out of opportunities if you pay attention to the signs.
All along I wondered what it would be like on the other side. The other side of the walls that had closed in on me, cornering me with the exhaustion of my one step forward and many steps back.
It was not until I had been exposed to the gift of Yoga that I began to feel even a dusting lighter month after month. Until one day I was so extremely light that I became aware. I noticed that my soul had broken open by my giving of permission to create space within myself.
By all this practice and all this newfound freedom, I can say that I no longer feel as if time was stolen from me. I feel as if time was given back to me — tenfold. I no longer claim that I have suffered a trauma. I have overcome one.
If someone had told me to try Yoga and explained to me the depth of its benefits that could act as an aid for me, I may have gone into it having expectations that would go against the grain of the ideas in my head of what it was supposed to be for me.
You see, the blank page that stood before me, of going in and not having any thoughts, makes for the pillar of my story.
Kahlil Gibran said, “Many of us spend our whole lives running from the feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all that you are beyond that pain.”
The moments I felt clarity, the moments I could connect, and the moments I felt relief, all became the words that put back the pieces of the mirror where I could once again see myself in.
It is a peculiar thing — the unintentional appointments we step into, discovering the bond we make with something we know nothing about just yet.
The methods of Yoga have suited me positively, and if I were to open my own closet to the space I live in now, I would no longer see the dark heavy cloak I once wore.
It seems to me that peace has been the most notable fabric that has cast itself around my mind to diminish the high volume noise I had been subjected to.
I am not saying that Yoga was my only saving device, because I know of the unseen forces that held me up and touched my hands with hope during the past four years; however, It was the most tender prescription that helped pave the way for the latter days of my mending, as my weights had organically dropped off me like a burden lifted at an altar.
My affections towards Yoga are not only derived from all that I have accomplished by the silent chambers of my heart, but also for the generous work it has done for my body.
I had an operation when I was 13, having five bolts and screws fastened to my spine in between my shoulder blades. When I was 19, I had an MRI, and my doctor told me that I had major arthritis along my upper spinal column, and it would set into my lumbar spine in the years to come.
I had discomfort that I paid no attention to, as my tolerance for pain was high, and I convinced myself that there was no remedy, and that it was imperative for me to stay in shape and stay healthy.
To my surprise, in only a couple months of making Yoga a habit, my aches dissipated, and I recognized the elements of movement I was engaged in had been a sustaining outlet for my joints.
I wondered why my doctor never told me about the benefits of Yoga, or why no one else told me just how simply awesome it is, reflecting back on that initial gratefulness I felt after my first class.
There is a parallel illustration in both of these trials I have lived out, as I could not wear the crown of expectation around my head because I had to go into it without a preconceived notion.
I recognized my surrender to change, and how uncomfortable it was yielding to the peeling off of layers of pain, as for so long that was all I had known. I had adopted courage, and three months ago I took a step in faith and began trauma therapy.
I believe that we look all around for answers, and sometimes so desperately seek any style of medicine to make us whole again.
I have found that the true sanctuary lies within us, and bravery begins with an honesty that stems from places where you must pick out yourself from all the questions and all the brokenness.
Why do I want to learn to teach Yoga?
I have spent the past year and four months fascinated by the instructors who have guided me and shared their gift while blessing my time, and I do not see it past me to do anything other than to locate and uncover what mysterious events happened inside me from the invitations of Yoga.
In this, I want to share with others what was delivered to me. B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.” My testimony holds proof of how one soul can be healed, be relieved, be strengthened, and be made whole again.
Like the joints in my spine, my soul too can finally breathe.
Joy has been restored in my life at the time I had begun to forget what it was even like to have it, at a time when I could only fantasize about what it would feel like again. It was not the type of joy entertained by the reasons of an external surrounding.
I desired only to be able to sit with myself and enjoy my own company, after the lands I had traveled through that filled me with fear.
Mark Nepo wrote, “The flower does not dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.” There is a calming in the soul when we are still and are made to see things in a new light. It was when I had put down my dreaming, and begun my living, that joy had knocked on my door.
Michelle Sanborn is a devoted self-nurturer. After several years of doing just the opposite, she now enjoys life splendidly and unbroken. She currently lives in the moment, spends as much time as she can being barefoot, and enjoys the cooky behavior of Siamese cats. She has a love for raw honesty, has found that the places of our past are never really lost when they have full nostalgic value, and she dreams of someday having a hot air balloon ride over a very green country. Her recipe for nourishing her introverted ways consists of one-on-one stimulating conversation, a date with her kitchen baking sweet treats on a gloomy day, and with her headphones and beach chair as her only guests, she drinks up solitude at the beach from nine to five. She does not believe in luck, but instead believes in being blessed. Writing is not her occupation, nor does she string the chords of an imaginary instrument to make it be so. The true faculty of her writing would only take the form of absolute serendipity, and that is just what makes her feel alive.