My first yoga class ever was with my best friend and I when we were about fourteen. Our moms had enrolled us and we both didn’t really understand it at all. We went once a week for a couple months and only once did I ever really relax in Shavasana. Eventually, we stopped doing it as my interest towards anything that even resembled exercise was pretty low.
Some time later, at sixteen, I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At that point, I had been hospitalized more times then I care to remember, lost my vision and my ability to walk and was on all kinds of medications with even worse side effects. All of which sounds pretty bad, but I was still a teenager and, like all teenagers, believed I was invincible. It’s actually kind of scary, thinking back, how not scared of my having multiple sclerosis I was. My mother was a nervous wreck, but I was like “No, it’s cool. I’ll walk again” and for whatever reason, be it medical science or a teenager’s stubbornness, I regained all my mobility and vision within a couple months. After that, I developed an interest in exercise as a means to always remind my body “Look, I’m using you. I care about you. Don’t try that M.S stuff again”. There’s an actual science behind exercise’s benefits for M.S, but at the core of it, staying active has been my way of expressing gratitude for another day with no symptoms.
Besides helping me cope with having M.S, Yoga really started to deeply impact my life about three years ago when I first started going consistently. I was just out of college and was experiencing a ton of anxiety. I also had a ton of time on my hands, with no job or prospects in sight. So, I started going to yoga as much as I could. Not only did it ease my fears of what’s next, but it gave me a familiar place to go to. At the time, I had started to move around a lot, making everything foreign to me. With every place I moved, I always found a home in yoga.
My experience with yoga has been life altering. The scenery has changed constantly, from Ithaca, to Chicago, to NYC and even San Francisco when I went there on a trip, but the practice has always provided me with a familiar place to grow, meet new people and reflect. It allows me to grow stronger while also providing me with a place to relax, something I desperately need as a 20 something who has no idea what their doing with their life. I’ll probably move again after spending another year in NYC, but where ever I go after this, I’ll find a place to rest my mat and share the practice.