A few years ago, I decided to leave Indonesia and to travel for a while. This was when I started to continuously practice Yoga. At the beginning, I focused on its physical benefits.
I was at a very conflicting point in my life. I was hurting because I had left my home and the people I called my family. I was running away from emotional problems, which included relationship trauma and grief of a loved one passing away I had not yet dealt with. I experienced pain and created suffering for myself.
I tried to maintain a continuous Yoga practice. Even though at first my priority was the physical benefit of Yoga, I also obtained a mental one at the same time. I started to notice that after each Yoga practice I felt better and lighter. My body and my mind.
I saw the change I was going through. I gained physical and mental strength. Not only did I feel more powerful, but I also learned how to release emotions that were hiding. I cried in several classes. My love for Yoga got bigger and greater the more I practiced. Slowly my focus shifted from a physical practice to a mental one. I started to deepen my practice. Yoga had become a part of my routine and I felt imbalanced every time I had not visited a class for a few days.
With time, I started to think about doing a teacher training. I really enjoyed the way it made me feel after each class and I started to feel the relief it brought to my life. And that is something I wanted to share with others. Yoga has helped me a lot to deal with my feelings and expressing them through the practice. I still wonder sometimes, what would have happened without Yoga at that part of my life. The only thing I imagine is that my emotions would have eaten me up from the inside until I would have reached a mental death.
One day I took the leap to sign up for a teacher training and from then on I fully focused on it. I started to study and practice as often as possible. I fully committed to the decision I made.
As the universe is working on its own agenda, it decided to teach me a very important lesson at that point in my life. The most important one so far. My life was going up and down. Certain events concerning my family, loved ones and my lifestyle, created a lot of sadness in my mind during this period. My mental self could not deal with life anymore at one point. My subconscious and hidden away pain I had carried with me for months and even years, started to catch up with me and merged together with the current pain I was experiencing. It all just became one big bubble ready to burst through one big explosion. And when that happened, I lost myself and my mind, and I just felt empty. Without any emotions and energy.
I lost the will to smile, enjoy and just live in general. I started to shut myself away from the world. I started to feel tired all day, I lost appetite, I had no motivation or ambition anymore, I started to physically feel sick, I could not sleep, I just burst to tears from one moment to the other and it just felt as if I was trapped in a vicious circle with no way out. I didn't go to work anymore or met people I loved, and I just felt exhausted and sad. I was so empty inside that I just didn't want to live anymore and end this path of pure misery. And then this thought of wanting to end my misery and being free of any pain suddenly was not passive anymore, but became active. This thought, which was so abstract before, became reality step-by-step and brought me to a point where I actively started to research how to commit suicide. I reached a point where I thought about a time and a place to say goodbye to life. I didn’t want to feel any pain anymore and saw no way out of there.
All this time, it never really crossed my mind that this might be a temporary condition. I got so obsessed with ending my life that I didn’t really try fighting against it. While experiencing this phase, I also started to neglect my Yoga practice. But still, I pushed myself in going whenever possible. When I look back now I remember that doing Yoga was the only light at that point I saw in my life, as it gave me the power to continue fighting. In that phase of purest darkness, Yoga gave me hope. After each class, I felt better and I started to journal the thoughts that arised. I promised myself to give myself a bit more time and see if it might get better. Journaling helped me to acknowledge the thoughts in my mind and analyzing them one by one. It supported me in finding the root of the problems I thought I had and why I let myself suffer.
Looking back now, if I wouldn't have practiced Yoga, I am pretty sure I would not be here today anymore. Very randomly one day, I saw a video of Yoga practitioner on Social Media. She talked about her depression as a younger woman.
When I watched it, my eyes were opened. What I saw was exactly how I felt. She was talking about feeling depressed, even though she did not have any major problems in her life. It was true that I experienced pain because of my mother's death and betrayal in a relationship. But in general, I was blessed with many beautiful things. I had a great family, amazing friends, I was healthy and free.
In her video, she continued to explain how she felt undeserving of all the great things she had in her life. She thought she would bother her loved ones and through that, her mental state kept getting worse. While watching the video, I felt as if she was talking about me. I found a lot of similar aspects of how I was feeling. In this dark phase, I thought I was a burden for my loved ones and that I wasn't worth living. Death would be the easy way out. But then I realized something very important for myself. This woman appeared to me as one of the happiest persons on this planet. I was watching her videos in the first place because she was so full of sunshine, energy, and love. But then on the other side, she is also this person that went through this dark phase in her life. It is both the same person. And that’s when it hit me. Depression is not something you are, it is only something temporary.
From that moment on, I knew I had to actively get myself out of this misery and suffering. I went to my doctor, which referred me to a psychiatrist. I went to see the psychiatrist and he diagnosed me with a severe depression according to my symptoms. He prescribed antidepressants and therapy. I found a therapist that could take me as a patient and started my treatment immediately. Something that strikes me until today is the fact that all of this happened within one day. Finding a psychiatrist and therapist that are immediately available and take you as a client pretty much on the same day, is a miracle. And until today this shows me that the universe always offered its help to me. I just needed to do the first step to accept the help and admit what was happening in reality.
It took me a while to accept this situation fully and to use antidepressants. I am not a big fan of medication. I fought against it in the beginning and kept telling myself that I can heal in another way without medication. But then, the same night I couldn't fall asleep and had panic attacks. So I promised myself to do whatever it takes to get better and started taking my medication. Until today, I still don't know if the medication really helped me or if it was just all about the right mindset. But after being on medication for a few weeks, I cried less, my mood stabilized and my mind started to become clearer. I gathered the courage to open up to my family and closest friends about my situation. And the problems I had faced before started to lose on importance and I started to accept what has happened.
I gained back the strength to fully continue my Yoga practice. Many times in this dark phase, I thought about the teacher training that I had signed up for. I wanted to cancel it, but somehow I had this feeling of just letting it be. And I am beyond happy that I did. Right before I left for my training, I was still on medication and was seeing my therapist. Right before I left, she said something I'll always remember. That the road I am choosing now, to become a Yoga teacher and dedicate my life to Yoga, is the best way of prevent a fallback. I didn’t know exactly back then what she meant but I would find out soon enough.
The most significant moment during this phase happened on my last day of the teacher training. After experiencing a training filled with love and joy together with amazing teachers and fellow students, I had reached my last day of it. In the weeks of the training and as we dove into the philosophy of Yoga, I got to know who I truly am. Every challenge I experienced in my life was laid out in front of me and I had to face it fully. I forgave the things I couldn't, I accepted the things I couldn't and I understood the things I couldn't before. And most importantly, I could connect to my higher self. And in this moment on my last day, I threw away all the antidepressants I still had with me. I brought a big pack with me to have in case of a fallback, and I threw it away because of one simple reason. I knew that I will never go back down this path. I knew that things can get rough again, but this time I learned how to deal with it. I knew how much power was within me and more importantly, I believed in who I was.
What started as a physical workout, became my purpose in life. My priority in teaching Yoga is to help. I know that even if there is only one person in the room when I am teaching a class, that is going through the same darkness I went through, this can have such an important impact on a person's life.
Until today I am still so amazed by how much power our mindset has and how Yoga can support you in having a positive and healthy perspective on life. Since I fully opened up my heart to Yoga, the universe took me on a wonderful journey and rewarded me with the most beautiful people and experiences. Once I started to release myself from negative thoughts and people, I was blessed with happiness and peace. I was free from ignorance, dissatisfaction and hate. Of course, I still experience ups and downs and I continue to learn from them. But I am teaching myself every day how to become a better person and to surrender. To let go of what is causing pain and negativity. To contribute to the happiness and freedom of all. To learn how to be patient and show empathy. To receive and to give love.
And honestly, aren't love, joy, peace, and happiness the only virtues we really need and want in our life and the world?