How yoga saved my life

A calmer, more balanced and grounded attitude, mostly free of most of anxiety, and also a healthier, stronger body is what yoga has allowed me to reach in the last year.
The most valuable lesson is that thanks to consistent yoga practice I have been growing a better person, and deal with my life and its unexpected turns in a more constructive and positive way.
Yoga truly saved my life and my sanity when I had to face one of the most difficult periods of my life.

How I started

I discovered yoga almost 1 year ago thanks to a friend who convinced me to join a local health club.
I had always been into spiritual development, so when I saw that there yoga classes in the timetable, I gave it a go. I had tried yoga 10 years before and hated it. I thought it was hard work, boring and kind of pointless. Clearly I was not ready for yoga at the time, therefore the right yoga instructor simply did not show up for me back then.
Since I started properly practicing yoga, I could not believe how great it has been for me.
My body now flexes, bends and becomes stronger and more balanced at every class. I could see progress in both my body and my mind after just a couple of weeks. I now feel connected to my body again, and I am calmer, and more energised than ever.

How my life turned upside down in a second

When my father died 8 months ago, I had the shock of my life. Everything came to a sudden halt. I literally froze inside and out.
I can remember the exact moment in which I received that shocking telephone call from the voice of my mother. I was expecting something bad because I had not heard from my mother for almost 3 years at that point, and knowing my family, such a long silence can be only broken by bad news.
Somehow I had seen this coming, but nothing compares to the reality of it. Especially because my father was not sick as somehow I had imagined, but gone forever in an instant. The instant that takes an accident to happen and take your life away.
Things like that put everything else in your life into a different prospective. Every problem you think you may have, becomes small and trivial in comparison to the abrupt finality of death.

I felt completely empty. I could not feel anything. I knew I should feel something, anything. Even anger would have been something. I thought I was inhuman, and I actually worried about my sanity. I did not know what to do. I needed to regain control over something in my life.
I did the only thing that came to mind. My yoga instructor told us that the most important thing to do is to breathe. If you breathe, you can think straight again.
If you breathe, everything is going to be fine.
I started breathing, and practiced the yoga relaxation techniques I had been learning in my yoga practices. I never felt so present. My mind became clear and still again.
Yoga helped me to develop the skills I needed to be grounded for my myself and my family in such hard moment of my life. Yoga has allowed me to make space and focus on what is really important. Because of yoga I started listening to my inner self again and became more resilient as a consequence.

The only way I can visually explain what happened is comparing my mind to a living room. Imagine it a room with a fireplace, a sofa, a huge library, a desk, and pictures on the walls. Everything was chaotic and untidy before practicing yoga, but with yoga practice, the room became tidier and a quiet, warm and familiar place to go to feel safe.
All of the sudden, a bomb is thrown. Everything shakes, but after the emotional earthquake, everything slowly returns silent and almost like before. Almost. There is dust everywhere and it is difficult to see, but slowly the dust settles on the floor.
Pictures on the walls are wonky, some are broken. Books are now on the floor here and there. The walls and the floor are cracked. The silence that follows feels surreal. I felt strangely alive. I survived. My life goes on. And I can still breathe. I will be fine.

An unexpected journey

My father’s sudden death brought me back to Italy to face all my old demons. Seeing again the family that rejected me, facing people I did not really want to see, knowing I will never talk to my father again was definitively not in my plans to a happy life. However, I am sure I would have reacted in a very different way had I not had practiced yoga before all of this happened.
I am very grateful because I was in a very good place in my life. Thanks to yoga practice I was strong enough to take the blow and turn it into something positive.
I simply asked myself “Ok, what is the lesson here?”.

My father’s death gave me an invaluable insight on the importance of time. Suddenly the concept that we are all to die sooner or later became very real to me. It sounds such an obvious comment, but it is not. I had never really thought of how silly we are to think we have a lot of time, and we continuously waste it in silly discussions, relationships that do not serve us, and doing the very things that kill our spirit every day because we feel we have to.
Isn’t it too late when we are not going to be around anymore? That is the only time when it really is too late.
For all the rest, it is never too late to start making the most out of out life. Steve Jobs somehow knew his time was limited, and made sure to pass over his message in his beautiful Stanford University commencement speech.
I am so grateful I discovered yoga. It had a huge positive impact on my body and my mind. I believe that yoga practice and its teachings really saved my life by making me discover a strength I did not know I had.

Since then, my fuel in life is a question what would you do if you knew you had only one week to live?”. The very answer to this question is the real deal. It is the only answer you need in the search for happiness.
What is your personal formula to deal with life and its unexpected turns?
Share your own experience by leaving a comment below.
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