First yoga practice:
My first class was in 2010. It was a Bikram class in London... I tried again a few more times but never went back after I discovered Meditation, Vinyasa, Hatha and Jitvamukti. I learnt a lot more from my practice when I wasn't constantly worried about fainting
Favourite yoga pose:
Anything that takes me upside down! Including the humble child's pose.
"You are you, that is truer than true, there is no-one alive who is youer than you" Dr Seuss.
"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love" Carl Sagan.
WHAT YOGA HAS MEANT TO MARI-HALINA
YOGA MADE ME HEAL
When I was 14 I landed myself in a psychiatric hospital for young people with anorexia. It was my home for exactly a year during which time I plummeted into the deepest depths of depression and became completely unrecognizable to my family, friends and to myself. Looking back on it now it all feels like it was just a very scary dream but it was the beginning of a long line of emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual obstacles I had to overcome on the journey to unveiling the joyful and free person that deep deep down I knew I could be, I knew I was and I knew each and every person on this planet to be. And the irony is that I knew this from hitting rock bottom many times over.
The Only Way Is Up
For the next 8 years a crippling depression and deep emotional pain clouded my life but what amazes me when I look back is the power of the human instinct to survive! No matter how low I got I always reached a place where I wanted to experience the beauty of this world that I knew was there, but had completely lost touch with. So I would look frantically for a glimmer of hope... There are all too many beautiful souls who are shrouded in a cloak of pain that weighs down so heavily on that survival instinct they simply can't go on. But there is hope. There is always hope and I believe that we can be a torch bearer for those in their darkest times and hold them close in the love and beauty that is around and within us all - an energy who's presence I have been guided to through yoga. But it is essential that we connect to that love within ourselves first and through that connection I know that bit by bit each and every one of us can find our true nature - our free, joyful and most authentic selves. We are never ever alone. We are all connected by the prana, chi, cosmos, universe, stardust that binds as all and is the origin of our life and all life around us. That thought alone fills me with so much awe and hope for this incredible, human experience we find ourselves in. :)
Journey To Yoga, Journey To Healing
Now I really want to be clear that I don't think yoga is a panacea for all human suffering. We are complex and multi-dimensional creatures having a simultaneous experience (to power phrase Julie Piatt). That is to say we are living this life together but each individual's experience is unique. I can't say that yoga has been the ONLY thing that has lead me to my true self, just as it may not be the only thing that is going to help you or any one else. But I can't emphasize enough how influential it has been in getting, and keeping, me hear today - happy and immensely grateful for the beautiful life I live. And I believe wholeheartedly that it can do the same for anyone else open to it.
When we practice the physical poses of yoga (asana) we often find ourselves in new, unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable scenarios. But as we continue with our practice we evolve, move through these challenges and start to take on a new shape and by doing so, we lift another cloak that was shrouding the innate power and strength that is within us all at this very moment.
Yoga has also guided me to mindfulness. Anxiety rests in the future, depression rests in the past and possibility rests in the present. When we practice yoga we practice being truly present, watching the breath and noticing the thought patterns and stories (samskaras) that are impressed in our minds from past actions and often hold us back. The simple act of noticing these thoughts and then watching them float away just as easily as they came in has taught me SO much about my true self and the suffering that occurs in our minds. The fact that we can watch our thoughts and distance ourselves from them means that we are NOT actually our thoughts.
So what are we then? I'm not entirely sure, that's part of the journey right? But we are undoubtedly far greater than the things that we think define us (our possessions, bank balance, career, past, likes on instagram, the list goes on). The wonderful astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, "We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically," and through that recognition I have found my heart, where lies a deep acceptance, peace and loving kindness not only for all of those around me and all life on earth but also for myself and this incredible human experience I am having. I still have down days, there are still things that get me very annoyed but the biggest difference is that I don't beat myself up for that, I forgive myself, do my best to learn from each moment and stay curious. Then life becomes playful, the random thoughts and stories we tell ourselves in our heads become somewhat comical and whats left is a great pleasure to be alive. The suffering of the mind is eased through yoga. It helped to heal me and I believe emphatically that it can do the same for many others.
If you have any questions or curiosities after reading this, about yoga, mental well being or anything else within this article, please don't hesitate to get in touch and drop me an email:
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