My Yoga Story: Sam Streeter
When I was approached to do a piece for The Om Work Project about how yoga has impacted my life I was stoked, nervous, but mostly stoked. I hadn’t been writing in awhile, not only for my self but for others eyes. So, I leaped at the opportunity.
I asked for a set deadline as yoga has yet to interfere with my relationship to procrastination.
That same day I heard of Kate Spades suicide. She was found dead in her New York City apartment. She hung herself and this news rocked me. The impact made my day do a 360. Now, I don’t actually know much of Kate Spades story. I don’t own any of her bags or phone case for that matter, but I do battle with mental illness. It hurts just knowing someone lost a fight I am far too familiar with. I started to sink. Being an empath, I felt extremely sensitive and my own darkness began to rise. I was dancing with tears all day. Not only did my heart sit heavy because she had lost the war with her own mental illness, but I wondered how many people even knew she was struggling.
Then, just a couple days later came the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death and similar thoughts surfaced.
As much as these are horrible, deeply saddening situations, they have sparked conversations and awareness. My only hope is that they continue to after the dust settles, and after the posts drift away from your feed.
It’s a great reminder that we never really know what anyone is going through at any given time. Be kind, of course but be an example to be open, raw, and vulnerable. Allow others to feel safe in your presence. Let them know that you struggle too. As you share and become more transparent you feel way less alone and so do those you share with. You feel closer and more connected. You build community.
The first time I ever felt that real sense of a community’s embrace was in a yoga class. I was extremely nervous, self-conscious, and felt out of place, yet I felt supported. So, I came back and I continue to come back. Not to perfect any certain shapes in my body but to clear the unwanted clutter and move through stagnant energy. I might not of realized then that that was what kept me coming back but it was the first time I’ve ever stuck with anything. So, I didn’t question it. I just kept on going. And although yoga isn’t going to heal or eliminate your sadness, grief, anger, resentment… It’s going to be an amazing tool to work through it. When you connect breath and movement you tend to drop out of your head and into your body, really taking the opportunity to feel and get to know yourself better.
Conscious breathing has been the most valuable tool through my journey. As an involuntary act most of us don’t even breathe to our fullest capacity. We just float around taking in the air we require, being overwhelmed with what life throws at us and never fully feeling present in our bodies.
Try it right now.
Take a really deep breath in, feel it fill you up. Let the exhale slowly leave your body. Be aware of the emptiness. Now, repeat a couple more times. Maybe even close your eyes.
Feel a sense of calmness wash over your entire being.
As I felt a shift happened within me all I could think was “does everyone know about this magical secret? They need to know! And I need to show them.”
The seed of becoming a certified yoga instructor was planted and has since then, flourished. It has grown roots, blossomed, and at times gone through dry spells.
My yoga journey quickly turned into a teaching journey. Finding a balance between the two has been nothing short of a challenge. Is it worth the challenge? Of course. Could I exchange the word yoga for life? Definitely. Could you exchange it for something that might resonate with you more? Dancing, running, swimming, biking, boxing, painting, journalling etc.? Sure, why not?
If it’s something that helps you find a better sense of you; connected, supported, focused, less overwhelmed by what life is throwing your way, maybe that’s your yoga.
Life is a practice in itself and you can choose to cruise through or find the tools that help you navigate best.
I can see now that my yoga journey has held a mirror and been a direct reflection of my mental health journey. Every time one slips the other is not far behind. Although motivation is at its toughest when my spirits are at a low I’ve learned that being on my mat for five minutes is better than none at all and those five minutes easily and quickly multiply.
The biggest difference between my personal practice and teaching is the accountability that comes with having to show up for others. Holding space and consciously breathing for the duration of a class leaves me feeling grounded and balanced. I somehow I always unintentionally say exactly what I need to hear in that moment. I take away my biggest lessons from what I project onto others. We realize we hear what we want and we take what we need. I’m sure you found yourself in a class where you felt like everything the teacher was saying directly applied to you, like they must have in fact been talking to you/ about you. Well, it really is just you being more open, more susceptible to what will nourish you most and that’s how we can heal. So, this piece didn’t turn out as planned but nothing ever really does. Not a practice when I land on my mat, not in relationships, jobs, or in road trips. That’s not to say that it turns out badly or wrong. I’d say it all works out how it’s supposed to. In lesson learning ways to skilfully prepare you for what life may throw at you next.
I leave you with the idea of openness. Be open minded, open hearted. Be an open ear for those who need the support. If you are hurting/ struggling please speak up and reach out.
I am here, I see you, I hear you, I support you.
You are not alone.