yoga saved me

I was going to write a blog this week about something super emotional and deep-feeling; I was going to write about how I constantly compare my success to others’ and how, right now, I’ve been feeling really down-in-the-dumps about my own life because of it. But then, last night, I finished a 30-day yoga challenge and my outlook was completely reversed. I wrote about it on my personal Facebook page, but decided to extend my gratitude to the blog. So, here goes.

I’m in a really tough spot in life right now. While I’ve been learning a lot about myself and who I am/becoming, I’ve been struggling a lot with my own identity (just call it an identity crisis, Mia). I left a school that I’d worked years to attend, that I strongly identified with, and returned home to only struggle more. I’ve been in a constant battle with my mental health, and my physical health has taken a beating because of it.

Overall, I’ve just felt plain shitty. And that’s been apparent in my actions, words, and thoughts for the last year.

But I’ve been weirdly recovering; I’ve learned more about myself in the last year that I’ve ever known in the last 21 years of my life and I am now more self-aware than I’ve ever been… except I’m not. Let me put it like this:

I know now, more than ever, what I want and what I don’t want. I know I want to go back to school. I know I want to be in a profession that allows me to be artistic while also helping people. I know I want to be able to grow as a person. I also know that I don’t want to compromise my health in order to do this. I know that I don’t want to bend-over-backwards to find success, when I have plenty of things knocking on my door. I definitely know that I don’t want any toxicity in my life, whether it’s other people or my own thoughts.

My wants can be aligned directly with my needs. I know I need all of this to be happy, but I also know that it will come in its own time. I can’t rush anything and I most certainly can’t cram all of the things I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, into four years of education with a $100,000 price-tag.

Though I have been figuring all of this out, I’m still lost as to who I am. Like, who the fuck am I? I left school, and though I plan to go back, I left school. I broke promises to myself and others in doing so. I didn’t follow a plan that had been in place my entire life. I did something entirely uncharacteristic and, here I am, unsure of how to process that sometimes.

I have never been more self-conscious in my life until now.

As a quick background, I’ve always been incredibly self-conscious of my physical appearance, starting around the age of nine or ten. I was pretty aggressively bullied in the early years of middle school because of how I looked and, due largely to that, my-self esteem for most of high school revolved entirely around my appearance. I would get up at 5:30 every morning to do my hair and makeup; I’d wear heels every day and dress like a young professional. After school, I’d go to the gym for a few hours as I toned down my slim figure to a size that looked almost unnatural at times. But all of this effort worked – people noticed me and they respected me.

I gained a lot of weight after high school. My “freshman fifteen” was considerably more as I unknowingly delved into a pattern of emotional eating. Between the stress of college, money, and life in general, I would eat both for energy and to make myself feel whole. I would eat to the point that I felt sick, and would sometimes throw up. I consumed food and sugary beverages because they made me happy in the short-term.

And it all worked out for me until I had a mental breakdown and ended up coming home. Once home, I felt entirely squashed. No longer was I the girl at Chapel Hill and no longer did I have the looks of my teen years. I began to experience depreciating thoughts not just towards my body, but also towards my intelligence, something I’d never experienced before. My self-esteem was shot and I spent most of my free time confined in my bedroom or avoiding people I knew.

Then something just clicked for me this last month. Maybe I just needed nine months of mental and emotional healing after coming home, but it wasn’t until sometime in December when I finally felt the urge to go back to school, knowing I finally wanted to better myself both physically and mentally.

Obviously, this isn’t normally the case for everyone. Hell, the last time I had an experience like this I was fifteen (which was, coincidentally, when I first started practicing yoga). But it happened, and I felt a small trickle of drive and motivation climb its way up my spine and into my brain and that dopamine lit a fire throughout my entire body.

Unplanned and unexpected, I jumped into a health craze at the beginning of January. I’m not dieting and I’m not purging anything; I’m even timid to call it a “health craze.” I’m just being more conscious, more aware, and more understanding of myself. And it’s working.

It helped me to start a 30-day yoga challenge with Yoga with Adriene at the beginning of last month. I had started and failed to complete her challenge last year (probably a sign of my mental state then), so I wanted this year to be different. I posted about it on Instagram to hold myself accountable and I followed along as, each day, Adriene slowly built on the fundamentals of yoga that my body had forgotten over time. It was the perfect re-introduction to the practice.

And I completed all thirty days. (Note: I don’t want to exclaim “somehow I completed all thirty days” because I know damn well how I did it – dedication, which was, coincidentally, the name of the challenge.) I finished all thirty days, on time, though not without some compromise. I missed two days, but made them up immediately by pairing them with the next day’s practice, and I didn’t beat myself up over it. I took those rest days for a reason, noticed how my body felt, and pushed myself even harder to double-up on the practices the next day.

I hit the mat for an entire month and it didn’t take long for me to notice a change in myself. I began to get stronger, my stamina increased, and my mental clarity was re-aligned. This was integrated into my day-to-day life as well. I began taking time during my work day to breathe, stretch a little bit, and stand tall.

By practicing daily yoga, I wanted to better myself in other ways, too. I joined Noom (with a hefty discount because Lord knows I wouldn’t have been able to afford that shit at full price) and have been transforming my mindset surrounding food. I stopped emotionally eating shortly after returning home last winter, so long gone are the days of bingeing, but I am developing a new relationship with food that has pushed me to be healthier than ever (though my boyfriend likes to give me a hard time when I enjoy a slice of cake every now and then but I didn’t see his lazy ass do yoga for an entire month… love ya, babe). I’ve been drinking more water and less soda. I’ve been eating consciously and trying to be more active. I find myself wanting to do active things and hang around people who are active.

This has all given me a boost. In just thirty days, my mindset has been transformed. The self-conscious thoughts will always be there, but I’m back in a comfort zone that makes me feel good about myself, and that’s really important.

We have one body and one life and, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we should aim to better ourselves as human beings in order to live more fulfilled, happier lives. I am feeling better with each passing day and, though I take hits on a regular basis, sometimes all I need to do is a a quick vinyasa flow and I’m back on my feet.

Until next time,

Photo Courtesy of:Pexels

2 thoughts on “yoga saved me

  1. You are beautiful inside and out. You are a young adult, typically integrating your self into a sense of Identity. Identity is formed but always subject to change as life is full of transitions. Transitions are not always welcome but each one is a beginning and an end. Mindfulness, prayer, yoga, meditation, lucid dreaming, all can improve your mental state. Love that you are concentrating on your Self wellness. Stop comparing all aspects of your self to any others. I will continue to practice all that I preach, as I struggle with similar feelings and thoughts even at my age.

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