In October, I turned 26. As a way to fully shed the layer of dark toxins circling around me and swirling inside my mind and soul – I decided to enroll in a two-day detoxing yoga conference. Hosted in a hotel a town 15 minutes away from me, people came from across the border from Canada, the farthest corners of Northern Michigan and the college town I left more than three years ago.
Everyone gathered for different reasons – myself included. Some people went to see and learn from the celebrated yoga instructor, Seane Corn. Some went to kick off a new year of yoga and purify their bodies of pent up energies, and help them begin a new initiative to control their health. I went, to let go of what I felt was holding me back from moving forward.
I have spent more than four years consistently practicing yoga. The transformation has touched every part of me and my essence. The physical, the mental, the soul and the bones. Throughout the countless hours I spent on my 68 inch mat – I have wept in fear, relief, joy and awareness. I have laughed uncontrollably, and danced and sweat. At one point I felt as if I levitated and hovered off my mat, but in reality, I sank deeply into the ground at the end of a blissed out hour of complete and utter freeness.
This birthday weekend was to immerse myself in whatever it was that came up. To sit in discomfort as harsh truths surfaced, as negative energies freed themselves from the deepest pockets of my hips and heart, and as new revelations and love floated into my mind.
We discussed the impact that food has in bringing toxins into our lives, and went through some intense series of poses to help us release what we stored inside. We questioned the impact our attitudes have not only on the people around us, but on ourselves. We challenged our concept of the environment and the true footprint we’re leaving on the world.
I lost myself in the meditations on love, as the words drifted far from my mind, and I didn’t hear them (I couldn’t tell you right now what the brilliant Seane said to the crowded room) but instead, I absorbed them into my soul. I struggled to position my leg correctly in poses I did daily for nearly 1,461 days. But sometime in that weekend, when the silence had fallen all around me, like a blanket wrapping itself around you in the cold, winter night, I realized my love of yoga was not just a daily practice I did, or deep breaths at the end of a long work day. My love of yoga was actually a love for myself – to grow roots in who I was and reach new heights of confidence and capability in every aspect of the me I was continuing to become.
It was during this weekend that I decided yoga could not take a back seat in my present, and if anything, it was going to be vehicle that drove me into my future. I had navigated out of a difficult and heartbreaking year. I could fully see the growth and acceptance that came from hitting rock bottom. I had spent nearly 300 days asking myself what happiness looked like and how I could live in that perpetual state. Then I spent two days answering that question. By being the best version of myself. And to continue my transformation through yoga.
So that is what I’m doing. I’m taking my yoga journey to the other side of the world. I’m going to Southeast Asia and I will spend a month and some change (ha – get it?) challenging myself and pushing myself to new edges by mastering the art of teaching yoga. I will participate in a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, where I will surely lose my mind – and eventually, find something more. This is the purpose of my four month trip, to gain this knowledge and pursue my passion. But more importantly, the purpose of my trip is to better understand love – for myself, my friends and the strangers I meet (and befriend) on the long road of a lifetime.
Because life is too short not to do what makes me happy. And as the last year taught me, I am the only person who is responsible for my happiness.