This testimony was written by one of our beautiful yogis- truly beautiful actually!!! Beauty radiating rom every cell of her existence! Here it goes:
“Namaste Beautiful Yogis! With Ali’s permission, I would like to share my story with you all today. I would like to add a trigger warning for anyone regarding depression, abuse, and self injury.
In light of the selfie challenge that we have started, I felt that I should share my journey of radical self acceptance and how I have learned to love myself through yoga.
When I was a small child, there was an abusive person in my life. I won’t share details, but the effects of that time made a lasting impact on my self esteem and self worth. I didn’t recieve therapy at that time and did not work through what happened. I tried, but was usually shut down by the guilt of my caregivers who wanted to deny what happened rather than deal with it.
As a teenager, I was plagued by low self worth. I truly believed that I was ugly. I was made fun of, probably not because I actually was unpleasant looking (I know now that there are a billion different kinds of beauty, and every single being has a claim on at least one), but because I seemed an easy target. I slouched terribly, I always looked at the ground. I had few friends, and the ones I did have, I placed an incredible amount of my self worth on the status of our relationships.
When I met my first love things changed for me, and I felt that I actually might, possibly, somehow be thought of as a lovely person, by him anyway. It was a beautiful time in my life. I was only 13.
Then, he moved away and depression sank in. Without him to help me feel good about myself, I spiraled into a very dark place where all I could think about was my past abuse, my victimhood, and how I would never find another person to love me. Yeah, teenager years are difficult! And very overdramatic, looking back!
My depression and self image got so bad that I started cutting myself. I have many, many large scars all over my legs. It is my deepest regret in life. They will never go away. Most of them should have required stitches, some up to 10 or 12 stitches, is what my doctors have said. I was suffering from mental illness, undiagnosed, for about 2 years, from the age of about 14-16. I finally got help and quit cutting. I have never cut since then. The saddest part is that I made a lot of those cuts out of self-hatred for how I looked, but they only served to scar me, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of “ugly” and “wrong” and “weird.” Even though I quit self-harming, the effects and scars of my self harm were incredibly detrimental to my self image and self worth.
Even though I received treatment for depression, and have matured as a sensible adult, married the love of my life (the same one I met as a 13 year old!), and had a very happy life, I still have those scars. Every day I would look at them and think about how ugly they make me, how stupid I was. My self worth was still in the dumpster. I still slouched and didn’t look people in the eye.
It wasn’t until I began practicing yoga at the age of 29 that I realized I could change my mind about myself. I learned that the concept of “self” was not static, and every step of my journey could teach me something if I only let it happen. Even after therapy, medication, leaving a controlling and sexist religion, confronting my past abuse, it was finally practicing yoga that led me to FULLY realize the potential I had to love myself, just as I am. All of those other things were necessary for me to do. But none of them taught me to accept myself in the way that yoga does. In fact, it’s only because of yoga that I had the strength to finally do some of those things.
The struggle and sucess of my yoga practice is like riding a wave. It is incredibly personal, and that has allowed me to grow without relying on what anyone else thinks, does, or says. It keeps me humble, yet also lets me celebrate what I’m capable of, not just of my body, but of my mind; how I think, and how I act.
So every time I fall over in half moon pose, every time I successfully do that second yoga push up, every time I rock crow pose, every time I fail at firefly pose– I know that it’s ok. Whatever just happened, it’s ok. It’s alright. I’m soothed by this.
I’m reminded by the struggle and success, and the quiet meditation in Savasana after it’s all done that I can be exactly who I am AND still be worthy of love and respect. In fact, it’s BECAUSE of who I am, no matter what success or failure I have, that gives me the right to love and respect myself. Just being, just existing, is enough.
It still makes me cry happy tears to think that: I can love myself. Just as I am.”