I can recall vividly lying on the floor in a fetal position, my body constricted, my eyes sore from the continuous stream of tears, and my heart so heavy. I had returned home to Louisville, bereft, following several events which had turned my life into complete upheaval. I guess you could say that everything in my life, until that point, appeared to have not worked out and my future was marked with the bitter taste of uncertainty.
With that uncertainty was born a fear (several fears actually); a fear of not knowing what my next step would be, a fear of failing again, a fear that my heart may never heal. At the time I had little understanding of how these emotions were actually being held in my body. I just knew that I hurt and that staying stuck was no longer an option. So, as dark as my life seemed at the time, I started seeking. I sought ways to piece the fragments of my life back together again so that I could heal and become whole.
A friend of mine invited me to a yoga class at Yoga Integrated Science, and the rest, as they say, was history. I had practiced yoga on and off for the better part of my adult life, but this time it struck me in a more profound way. I had such a visceral feeling of knowing that where I was, was exactly where I needed to be. The scientific approach to the body and the way the class was taught totally resonated with me. There was a deep relief in knowing that every BODY is different and that I could honor my body where it was that day, in that moment.
I had an interest in teaching fitness prior to my return to Louisville because I had seen how immensely helpful it had been for me in the past- both emotionally and mentally. I inquired about teacher training from the studio owner, Lauren Eirk, who would soon become one of my greatest mentors. Before I knew it I was studying to become an instructor. The goal then was towards becoming an instructor, but as I followed the path it became something far greater.
From that day forward, I just kept showing up. I attended class every day for the following six months and I began to see that becoming an instructor was more about being a lifelong student. I began a different avenue of self-study; a student of the body as well as the heart. As I slowly untied the figurative knots my body had been holding from fear and grief, the more I could see how my heart began to feel more expansive as well. Life started looking a little different and possibilities seemed to be presenting themselves everywhere I turned.
The more I fell in love with yoga, the more I fell in love with myself. And I don’t mean being in love with myself in that narcissistic yucky sort of way, but rather a deeper sense of compassion towards myself and belief in my own inherent worth. When a student approaches me now to say that they enjoyed my class, it’s not because I’m good a cueing them about positioning their body, it’s because I’ve woken something up in them that was there all along. I teach because I feel passionately about it and I see how yoga has changed my life. It has been a gift to me and I want to share it with anyone open to receiving it. As a result of practicing yoga and through self-study, I have found that whatever storm may be happening outside, there is a place within that cannot be moved. I have found my anchor.
So, when you find yourself crouched in that fetal position feeling like your life is over… maybe life as you have come to know it, is over. Maybe it’s time to begin a new chapter and start moving forward. The body wants to move. The heart and mind both want to expand. The first day you show up for your class may be the first day you show up for yourself.
Chrissy Leake, BFA, RYT-200
Instructor: Yoga Integrated Science™ Wellness Center