Yoga – My Saving Grace

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by Jennifer Fugo on October 18, 2011

At the ripe ol’ age of 20, I wandered into my first yoga class at the Equinox gym on 19th St.  Though I barely recall the place and the experience, I do remember the my experience of my body the following day.  There appeared to be very sore muscles in places that I’d never known muscle to be.  Aside from a more peaceful sense of being, I loved that I could finally get in touch with my physical body in a way I’d not known since being an avid swimmer for years in grade school.  Swimming through water is peaceful and so is the sound of one’s breath.

Since then, I’ve practiced at different places with countless teachers (some I’ve liked and others, well… we’ll leave that for another day) and definitely have my own sense of what MAKES a class memorable.  In so much as a second of time, yoga has become a distinct part of my life that challenges me both in a pose and within every moment of every day.  It teaches me things that could only come from someone like a loving, yet stern grandmother who wishes to impart her richest pearls.

Though some people think that a measure of a yoga class is the amount of sweat pouring from the body during class or the number of times they can leap into a handstand, it’s most definitely less of that for others.  In essences, yoga is life.  It’s the dirty, sad parts as much as it is the happy.  It’s both the tight muscles and the limber and loose ones.  Yoga is all things at once, even the opposite commands which we teachers weave masterfully into class telling you to “root and rise” all at once.

For me, yoga helped me travel through the badlands of PTSD after living in NYC when 9/11 occurred. That tragic event in history was literally my worst nightmare that I fears each day living in the Big Apple.  I never really thought it would come true, but it did along with anthrax scares, bomb scares and a whole host of other really sad events and situations that truly changed my course in life.

For years afterwards I lived with nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety and depression fed by too many internet conspiracy stories.  I lost all my savings, my home, my relationship, and my friends.  My budding career in fashion design fell a part and no longer seemed like a valuable path.  In sum, I lost my way in life and lived from a place of dreading when the walls might finally cave in.

Thankfully yoga appeared back into my life, saving me from the depths of a dark and lonely place.  I learned to find hope and eventually faith in both myself and mankind.  Asana practice gave me the space to begin releasing many of the toxic images, ideas and constant chattering in my brain so that I could honor just one moment in time – the present.  Eventually I was able to bring peace and life back to old relationships that seemed completely over and heal my the parts of my heart that felt eternally destroyed.

For me, yoga is a gift of living life in a meaningful way.  It’s the simple path through the woods uncluttered by many of the obstacles created in a consumer-driven life.  I’m no monk by any means, but I value the small things, find forgiveness and cultivate a good quality of life.  One breath at a time, of course!

For more info on the public classes I teach, check out my schedule HERE.

What type of yoga have you tried?  If you have a yoga practice, has it ever helped you to overcome anything in your life?

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