Growing up in a family of five girls, all born within eight years, I learned to act in ways that pleased others, which led to a pattern of storing anger and sadness in my body. It was an unconscious kind of pattern. I found exercise to be a helpful stress relief as I became a young adult. The younger me seemed to be always focused on doing, and I felt like I had to be moving, always.
My 40th year was not an easy one. I was going through a divorce when I learned that my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She later passed away. Facing such devastating losses in such a short period led to my feeling like I was standing in quicksand some days. The grief would overcome me, and I was not able to move.
Shortly after my mom died, I had started walking with some girlfriends. I thought I was slowing down my life, but this exercise outlet still had a competitive feel. I injured my back after our second half-marathon—to the point of being unable to walk on my right foot. Some days I wasn't able to stand upright fully and other days I stayed in bed due to pain. I spent years in rehabilitation, all the while not being able to relieve my stress through my normal exercise routine.
One day, I got a call from my friend Stephie. She said she was coming to visit me in four days and asked me to find a Bikram yoga studio nearby for us to attend Saturday and Sunday.
Several times in my 30s, friends recommended I try yoga. The thought kind of made me laugh to myself. I couldn't imagine standing still long enough to get through a yoga class. It seemed so slow to me. But, if you know Stephie, you know that it wasn't really a request.