I started practicing yoga right after graduating from college. I was in Austin working at an advertising agency next door to the global headquarters of Whole Foods, where they were offering classes upstairs. I had no idea what to expect. I figured it would be granola and easy. I was shocked when I broke a sweat.
A few years later, I was a runner. My knees were killing me though, so a friend, who was very fit, suggested that I join her at Bikram yoga. I went. I loved it. The end. I hung up my running shoes and never looked back. Within a yearʼs time, I was modeling for Lake Austin Spa, busting out dancerʼs pose at the waterʼs edge during sunrise.
Iʼd always had really bad female problems – debilitating cramps, extreme moodiness during PMS, and an irregular cycle. I started noticing that after every class, I would be miserable with cramps. So I went to the doctor. They did a sonogram and discovered I had uterine fibroids. The doctor removed them. It was a surprisingly complicated surgery. During this time, my marriage was suffering. My husband was a little bit older and he wanted to have children. I was on the fence about children, but we had tried a couple of times to no avail. After surgery, because of the extent of dissection required to remove the fibroids, the doctor said, “Letʼs not discuss fertility until you are ready to really give it a go.”
And then, 9/11. Ok, up until this point, I had been partying – i.e. cocaine, marijuana, and booze galore, mixed with live music. And this had been going on for quite some time since, um, basically high school. See, I grew up in a household with a paranoid schizophrenic sibling hell bent on killing me and not a single parent, or adult for that matter, who wanted to help me as that meant admitting that something was wrong with our seemingly perfect family. So my solution was: act perfect, be perfect, look perfect, make perfect grades, make boys happy, girls mad, and ‘who cares what you want cause youʼre their only hope.’
Drugs made all of this not feel so horrible. So did yoga. But in different ways, although I wasnʼt yet conscious of the difference. However, I did make this comparison often to my friends. Iʼd be standing in line at some concert, chewing my lips off on x, and my friends would ask me why I liked yoga so much. Iʼd say, “Cause itʼs the closest feeling there is to this right here (meaning the drug high) and smile a 1,000 megawatt smile.”
As 9/11 approached, I began an affair with my and my husbandʼs mutual best friend. This was not something I was proud of, but it was part of my spree of self-destruction that was necessary for evolution. The result of said affair: getting divorced, fired, and pregnant.
In early 2002, I was in a new apartment, working at a new job, and starting to build a new life – one that had depth and meaning. I realized that my pregnancy was a swift kick in the rear, from the Universe, to get it together. I became instantly sober. Up until this point, I had been living my life to make others happy. Becoming pregnant was my chance to do something to make me happy. Once I became pregnant, I realized how much I actually wanted this baby and I realized how much I had been partying to numb the pain of not being able to do something perfectly for once.
During my pregnancy, I practiced prenatal yoga the entire time. I was single, working in corporate America, and pregnant. I was working alongside beautiful married women. We would enter a conference room together. They would be barraged with questions about their pregnancy; I would be ignored. This blew my mind and severely hurt my pride.
Yoga to the rescue!
On my mat, I could shed my tears. On my mat, I could connect to my baby and feel the serene happiness that I knew was in store for us, even if my father had begrudgingly asked me, “Who do you think you are? Madonna?!“ upon realizing that I was proceeding with my pregnancy, even single. On my mat, I was free of fear, free of sorrow, and full of love.
For six more years, I toiled away in my career. For six more years, I paid the bills and hired a sitter several times a week so that I could go to yoga. For six more years, I dreamed of quitting my job and becoming a yoga teacher. Then one summer, I went raw. My raw diet combined with my yoga practice yielded some revelations… Namely:
1. What I wanted in life did matter. And what I wanted was to be closer to my family so that I could both give help to my beautiful mother, who was suffering from ALS (unbeknownst to us), and receive help from my family, as single motherʼs often need. What I didn’t yet realize was that I also wanted to be closer to the Divine, and this was the first step.
2. I wanted to teach yoga instead of selling my soul to line someone else’s pockets; I wanted to stop pimping myself out in an effort to control the power of the outside world. Little did I know, I was being called to wake up; I was being called by my soul to create a life of passion and dedicate myself to a vocation rather than a career.
3. I actually could make this change. It was not as impossible as I’d led myself to believe. All of those fears that I had allowed to trap me were exactly that – fears. I vowed to myself that I did not want to live a life based on fear, but rather, one of love.
And that is where yoga has led me- to a life of love. Iʼm now remarried with a ten-year old boy and a one-year old baby girl. I teach yoga for a living and I write with passion daily.
Credits: This is written by Rebecca Butler and has been posted with permission. She is a yoga teacher, writter, and blogger. You can find her here.
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