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Yoga Helps Me to Connect the Dots

Jennifer Marshall

Yoga Helps Me to Connect the Dots

Last month I pulled a muscle in my neck while reaching into the backseat at a stop light for a book my son had dropped and couldn’t reach. Well I couldn’t reach it either, apparently, injuring myself pretty badly. After dealing with the pain for 24 hours, the next day I decided to find a hot yoga class to help me stretch out the affected muscle. A quick internet search and I was in luck! A studio in town offered a new client special - a reduced rate for a month-long membership where I could take unlimited classes. Score!

In 2006 when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I dove into yoga at the gym where my husband and I were members to try to gain some perspective on what I was going through. I found the classes helpful in calming my hyper, buzzing mind. I attended classes weekly, and did some DVDs at home, but even with this bit of yoga experience in my past, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect of my first hot yoga class.

It was incredible. The heat and humidity of the room melted the tight knot in my neck as beads of sweat began to grow on top of my skin. I was able to fold into familiar poses with ease thanks to the temperature wrapped around my body with its searing collective energy. I had a wonderful teacher who talked soothingly during practice about how obstacles in our past prepare us for our future. She referred to the famous Steve Jobs commencement speech which I had watched online recently.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”        - Steve Jobs

Hearing those words caused me to think back to my onset of mental illness at the age of 26, how I gradually came to terms with my reality, and how learning to live with this condition of the mind has led me to where I am today. Despite all the pain and struggle, I wouldn’t change a thing. My experiences have made me who I am.

 

I spent the entire month of July taking two to three yoga classes a week and by the end of the month felt stronger mentally and physically than I had in a long time. And while my month-long pass has expired, I am thankful for the pulled muscle which sparked a renewed interest in making regular yoga practice a part of my mental health treatment plan.

Comments

I spent many hours in a hot, sweaty room regaining my sanity, my self-esteem, my flexibility and my life. Mindful practice, careful not to over-aggravate any surfacing mania, gave me years of joy as a Yoga practitioner and, now, as a Yoga therapist. Thanks for writing this. Namaste!

I have found that contemplative practices have helped balance my mind in a way that very few things can. Excellent article. Thank you for your experience.

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