It was December 29, 2005 at 3:00 in the morning. I can remember the time, date and place, but the how, what, and why I have no memory of. The how and what are what led me to unroll my first yoga mat. If those events had not happened I may not have gone down that path. Even though I do believe that the universe has a way of giving us what we need when we need it, for me this day is the day that I stepped onto a new path.
That December morning I woke up in a hospital bed at North Shore Medical Facility in Long Island, New York. I had no memory of the 8 hours before I awoke only snippets or flashes of an ambulance ride. I actually have scattered memories of the days leading up to December 29. As I finally became conscious the doctor informed me for maybe the 15th time that I had a tangerine sized tumor in the right frontal lobe of my brain. My reaction to this news was immediate hysterics (as I tend to do) of tears, panic, denial, guilt, etc. Although I have no memory of the how and what of this life experience I have memory of the doctor informing me of what happened, and being surrounded by my family. The why I will never have a memory of because I nobody knows why.
Up until that point in my life I was fairly reckless, one may even say I thought I was invincible. I lived like a “rock star” I loved to party, but with that comes carelessness, use of drugs, binge drinking, no fear, not caring what happens next, no compassion for me or my body, no thought as to how my actions affect others and the world around me. I had a very short temper; I lashed out a lot, and had very little patience for anything. I could just be a nasty person.
I feel that my patience is not perfect now but I am able to remain calm and be patient in stressful situations whereas before I began a consistent yoga practice I did not have those tools. I know that I am not invincible; I am more conscious and careful with what I do to and put into my body. I still live my life with no fear, but it is in a more mindful way. I am also able to handle stressful or uncomfortable situations more delicately than I have in the past. I attribute all of these changes to yoga.
At the time I worked in a corporate America environment and drove by a yoga studio every day to and from work. It always caught my attention and I often wondered what it would be like to go. The first time I attended a class I was a little intimidated and went to a class that did not resonate with me, but I tried a different style again a couple days later and was hooked. I decided to try to go regularly and see how I felt, one class a week turned into two classes a week eventually to three and so on. Not only did the actual physical practice on my mat feel good but the community felt just right.
I developed a consistent practice over about a year. Over that year I was able to find my true self! I felt alive and I felt connected to something bigger! I began to wonder how I ever managed without yoga. I decided it was time for a leap and signed up for teacher training. I wanted everyone to feel this good, I wanted everyone to feel this connection.
Yoga has changed me on so many levels. Practicing has changed me but teaching has changed me as well. Through my personal practice I have discovered that I can use my prana (breath) to stay mindful, calm, and present. I am able to build strength, and release stress, tension, and trauma through asana (physical postures). I am able to find, and feel a connection to something bigger; the universe, the yoga community, the earth. Teaching has changed the way I use my voice; I am now able to speak in front of people with more confidence. It has given me the tools to share and help others. It has also allowed me to be part of something bigger.
When my tumor returned in 2011 the same feelings came up, but how I handled them had changed. I felt trust that the universe will take care of me and everything would be ok. I knew I could stay calm by using my breath.
My recovery in 2006 took 3 months – I was stagnant and not in tune with how what I ingested affected how I felt. My recovery in 2012 took 1 month – I was back on my mat as soon as the doctor gave the ok, plus I understood that I am what I eat and was more mindful with what I took in.
My tumor re-growth was discovered in 2011 but surgery scheduled in 2012, that year the entire Indy yoga community came together to lift me up & guide me through. Studios came together to do fundraisers, fellow teachers and students came together to lend me support. I am lucky and honored to be part of this community and lifestyle. Not only did yoga change me, but I like to think it changed/changes all of those around me.
Tags: health, lifestyle, yoga, yoga practice
Jocelin, RYT 200, began her yoga journey in 2006 and has been teaching since 2008. She is passionate about the local food scene and frequents farm to table restaurants. She also enjoys hiking with her dog, biking around town, spending time in her garden, and traveling the world. She incorporates world travels and outdoor time into her yoga.
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