Where the Light Enters: The Real Reason I Practice Yoga
“Yoga is the path which cultures the body and senses, refines the mind, civilizes the intelligence, and takes rest in the soul which is the core of our being.” -B.K.S Iyengar
The first time I laid in savasana, I felt something I had maybe not ever felt before. My inner critic was silent, and my usual tense body was soft like pudding. See, here’s the thing about trauma: it has ways of shutting off parts of your brain and body – sort of like a booby trap. Sometimes, even if they get help, trauma survivors live their life out of heartbreak and gut-wrenching sensations. The most unfortunate part about this is a lot of survivors don’t even know that they are constantly in fight or flight mode because it becomes a normal way of being.
From the moment I had my very first taste of yoga, I was hooked on that inner calm. The pain of holding onto the gut-wrenching past can feel unbearable. Without any coping skills, an easy way to release the pain is through numbing agents like drugs, alcohol, and other forms of self-sabotage. But, these coping mechanisms are merely bandaids and once they wear off, you find yourself back in the same, agonizing cycles.
Yoga works on a deeper, more visceral level. Yoga changes your neuroplasticity, which is just a fancy word for how your brain interacts with your body. The compassion and acceptance that is cultivated through yoga triggers the release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone which increases feelings of trust, calm, safety, and generosity. For me, yoga opened doors that did not exist.
My great, great grandmother was sold in Mexico as a slave when she was 12 years old. She eventually escaped and started a family of her own. My great grandmother jumped out of a moving vehicle to escape her abusive relationship. She took her children and also started a life of her own. My grandmother spent 40 years in Al-Anon self-help programs. When I was only 16, I was in my own abusive relationship. I got out. I knew I needed to become a more functional version of myself before it was too late. I tried my best but kept falling into different versions of old patterns. It wasn’t until I found yoga that I was able to cut the bullshit. For the first time in my life, my true self was able to emerge like a lotus stuck in the mud.
The generations before me were very poor immigrants who did not have access to much education, but they did their absolute best and loved unconditionally. Thanks to yoga, I heal not only my own cycles but also reverse the traumas of previous generations as well.