Yoga could not have found me at a better time. After escaping a very unhealthy relationship and living situation, I was left a shell of my former self. I was lonely and unhappy, mixed with anxiety. I spent the next three months laying in my best friend’s living room, eating everything I could find, binge drinking and feeling sorry for myself. My future did not look bright. I don’t think I will ever forget my first yoga practice.

It was held at a local studio, and about halfway through the first vinyasa flow, I told myself I was never going to go to yoga class ever again. Having knees prone to dislocation, being overweight and being stubborn was a very difficult combination. I refused to believe that my body couldn’t do some of the poses that I saw people who had been practicing for much longer than I had were twisting themselves into. I was very sore, my knees felt as if they were going to give out my calves, were burning, and I don’t think I had ever sweat as much as I had during that practice.

When the practice was over, however, the instructor recited, what I later learned was one of the more common yoga mantras, and it completely changed my “I’m never returning” mindset. It filled me with a sense of peace, and I left practice feeling hopeful, alive, and most importantly, happy. So I went back to class. I learned what my body needed from me and that just because the person next to me can take a specific pose, doesn’t mean that I can. Over the next several months, yoga taught me to control my breathing, and in turn, control my stress level. I was able to go off my anxiety medication and lost over 55 pounds, put on in the aftermath of my previous living situation. Day by day, I began to rebuild my life, and it was because of the patience I learned in my practice.