Melissa Howard speaks about her experience with yoga:
“Growing up and even into my 30’s, I would beat myself up. I shouldn’t eat this, if I eat this I need to do this to burn it off, I should lift more weights, I would be more toned if. If’s and but’s. That was me.
I discovered yoga in 2001 and immediately fell head over heels. From a young age I was sitting in full lotus (a yoga pose), putting my feet behind my head, and tumbling in the yard, so it was as if I had found my childhood self all over again.
But, I always wanted more. To do the hardest pose. Hold it the longest. Be the best. Until one day I had a break down. I had hit the hardest of times and the lowest of lows and couldn’t see any way out. I began taking anti-depression medication and sleep aides to make it though this black hole of what I though my life would be like forever.
I continued my practice and remember a specific session that I kicked my butt. I treated myself they way I had always thought of myself—–I was the enemy. By the end of this particular session, I came to the realization that all of the things I had suffered through were gone. In the past. This was my ‘ah ha’ moment.
I dedicated myself to this practice of yoga, as many people dedicate their lives to some sort of other goal. It was about a practice. For me, It wasn’t about being the best, having the best, or being seen as being the best. It was me, myself, and I. My ego. Once I let the thoughts go that were holding me down, I felt free. Free from myself, to shine my light, and accept my faults equally as much as my triumphs.
Fast forward to today, and I’m medication free, through acupuncture and a continued daily practice, not just of yoga, but self-love / acceptance, prayer, and meditation. I appreciate and accept what has been and what will be because what we go through in life, carves out who we’re gonna be.
Do I still try to get into a pose, and bask in the excitement of being in a difficult pose, absolutely? But it doesn’t have to be now, today, or even tomorrow. It’s no longer a ‘I need this today.’ It’s a ‘maybe it will happen tomorrow, and if not, oh well!’
So, what I have learned from this practice is that life is a balance. A balance of all of our practices. Whatever that practice is, when we let something arise as it is, and accept it with out boundaries or questions, we can truly be who we are meant to be. ”
Melissa Howard lives with her husband and 3 kids, and teaches Yoga at The Center of Bliss in Greenville, SC. https://thecenterofbliss.com/ and she also enjoys running and acting as taxi driver for her children.