I Was Dealing With Crippling Depression. Then I Found Yoga

Photo: @thebalancedblonde

I tell you this story because everyone starts somewhere. And every journey ebbs and flows. My journey with yoga has not been perfect or linear—it's truly been all over the place and continues to evolve in the most beautiful, surprising of ways. Yours will too! I encourage you to keep a journal if this is the beginning of your yoga practice (or even if you've been practicing for years—anywhere works) so you can chronicle your story as well.

My personal yoga journey started when I was a teenager. Fifteen years old to be exact. Long story short, I was dragged to a yoga class by one of my best friends on a rainy December day in good old Sacramento, where I grew up. She had been raving and raving about this studio, Zuda Yoga, that was heated and blasted fun music and had all these good-looking teachers. I wasn't entirely convinced, given the fact that I had tried yoga before at my local gym and my core almost exploded because I found it to be so difficult!

Anyway, I signed up with her and wound up going, even though I almost died when my alarm went off that morning because it was super early. I was wearing an oversized tee, basketball shorts, and a sports bra. I had no idea what I was getting into, and these were long before the days of Alo Yoga, Lululemon, or any other trendy activewear.

I won't get too deep into this (although this story will be in my upcoming memoir), but my longtime boyfriend had just tried to commit suicide. I was shaken up, ridden with terrible anxiety, and my entire body hurt from the pain and deep shock that my heart was experiencing. I didn't know how to control my emotions or feel present in my body—at all.

How yoga changed everything

When I stumbled into Zuda that day and flowed through 75 minutes of vinyasa in my b-ball shorts (and yes, the teacher was insanely good-looking), my life was forever changed.

The euphoria I experienced in that class was something I knew I would never be able to get enough of, and I knew I needed to get my hands on more. The inner reel of thoughts and anxious obsessions in my head quieted down and eventually silenced for the entire duration of the class, to the point where when I was walking to my car I asked myself how on earth a practice of movement could possibly be that powerful?

Photo: @thebalancedblonde

I made a vow to myself that day that I would incorporate yoga into my life every single day. And more or less, I've pretty much done that. I'm extreme like that. (I'm being lenient with myself on counting or not counting many of the days during my mega-partying college years…there was definitely several off days during that time!).

As I've grown and my life has shifted, the anxiety-quelling nature of my yoga practice has only enhanced. I've refined my daily practice to include more restorative poses, twists, heart openers, and juicy hip openers instead of always focusing on the extremely fast-paced and rigorous vinyasa flows. All of which I am sharing with you in this ebook, as well as the faster paced sweaty flows I originally fell in love with.

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Remember that yoga is not meant to be perfect.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that yoga comes in ebbs and flows in all of our lives, and it's not meant to be perfect—it's meant to be different every day, for every single one of us. And that ever-changing quality is pretty damn awesome if you ask me.

Now, becoming a teacher has shifted my practice yet again. I see the practice in a whole new way and I have learned how to be kinder on my body than ever now that I really know what's up with the anatomy, physiology, and subtle body aspects of the practice. I will do my best to share all of that with you in a nutshell—but if you want all of the details, I would suggest signing up for a teacher training. If you like this, you'll love soaking in all of the glorious yoga knowledge.

The spiritual side of the path has changed my life in so many blissful, energetically vibrational ways. I will give tips throughout this ebook to tap into the spiritual side of yoga as well as the physical! Kundalini yoga is a new love of mine, with beautiful Pranayama breath work and insane energy release. I have even connected to my spirit guides through the practice of kundalini—yes, I am THAT girl.

Of course, the physical has changed my life too—yoga is a truly amazing practice. I believe it should be fun and that movement in our bodies should be celebrated. Yoga is about awareness and cultivating happiness beyond all else, so let's have some fun in our practice.

Excerpted from Soul on Fire By Jordan Younger. Copyright © 2017.

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