My Sliding Door Moment
Theresa Polley
July 9, 2021
August 30, 2023
My Journey

It all began with a sliding door moment. That moment when circumstances allow your life to go in a completely different direction. The phrase comes from "Sliding Doors,"  the movie that depicts the life of the main character going in two different directions based on one moment. I am fascinated by the concept. This is my story of how one seemingly insignificant event, turned my life in a completely (and unexpected!) direction.

My Journey Into Health and Wellness

I began my journey to health and wellness when I was 30. Having just had my second child, the "take the stairs instead of the elevator exercise plan" was no longer working. A group of friends started going to the Coppell YMCA and encouraged me to come. I was intimidated at first AND out of breath and struggling to stay upright on the stair climber. Then I ventured into the weight room - I loved lifting weights, but the constant noises the men were making was a bit much.

But I kept at it. All of it. Not only did my physical body change, my outlook on life was transformed. I found relief from my ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety. What kept me coming back for more was how I felt walking out the door after a workout. I felt amazing!

At first I was terrified of the group exercise classes - all of those people staring at me! Now I know, most of us are too focused on what we're doing to notice what anybody else is doing. I dove right into a cycle class - because why not? Physically, it was incredibly challenging - even worse my butt was killing me - but in spite of that I loved it.

An Invitation From the Universe

I continued to go to class, loving the music and the challenge. My instructor at the time was 9 months pregnant! Also incredibly fit and young. One morning she didn't show up to teach, and the class looked at me and said why don't you teach? My first thought was I don't want everybody staring at me - so I turned it down. She didn't show up for the next class either. They asked again. This time I said yes, thinking how hard can it be?

I immediately fell in love with it. A month later, I was at the Cooper Clinic getting certified. From there, I moved on and taught other exercise classes - including step - which was difficult as I have no idea how to find the 8 count in music. Still don't! For years, I was running around town teaching various exercise classes at different gyms. It was exhilarating. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to pay the bills, so I was also working a corporate job.

Since I was a fitness junkie, I avoided yoga. I’d observe a yoga class - and think “I could do that at home - they're laying on the floor!” Ha. Now I know better. I took my first Yoga class in the spring of 2003. My mom had just died, I was laid off from my corporate job and a relationship ended suddenly. At that point, all I wanted to do was lay on the floor and cry. 

It took a series of traumatic events in my life for me to wake up to the incredible power of Yoga as a tool for healing and self-discovery.

I skipped over Beginner Yoga and went directly to Power Yoga - because - why not? I found peace. And got my butt kicked! That was the beginning of a (huge) shift and an eventual life change. Not only did I find myself on my Yoga mat, I embraced myself for being exactly who I was - something I struggled with for years.

Using Yoga as a Tool for Healing

Through my yoga practice, I discovered Yoga as a powerful path to healing. Not only physical healing, but mental and emotional healing. Yoga went beyond every fitness class I'd taken by putting the emphasis on breathing. I felt the shift immediately. The very first time I stepped on my yoga mat, I fell in love with the poses and the movement. But it was my first Savasana that changed my life - when I first experienced the magical combination of peace, relaxation and release.

Diving into teacher training allowed me to connect with parts of myself I had buried for years. After years of trying to be the perfect wife and mother, I realized I needed to be me. Whatever that looked like. I had stifled feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness with drinking wine or shopping at Target. It was all about avoidance. I was truly afraid to see the real me.

What I love about my yoga practice now, no matter what's going on in my life - I always find myself on my mat. When I connect with myself and my breath, everything I've been shoving down comes out. Crying in Savasana is not unusual. But after the tears, my head is clear, my body is relaxed and my heart is open.

Everything Led Me Here

My journey as a fitness instructor and the role of Yoga in my life led me directly to dream of what is now Retreat in the Pines. I have so much gratitude for my journey. The things that worked out and the things that didn't. The people who encouraged and supported me, and the people who challenged me.

I sometimes wonder where my life would be if I had said no both times to stepping up and teaching the cycle class. I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog. What’s so interesting to me, is the fact that the opportunity came around twice. As if the universe said - hey pay attention this is your moment. Wake up and take it. What’s amazing is so much of my journey to create RITP was just that way. If I didn’t pursue a particular opportunity it came back around. It was almost as if the Retreat in the Pines community was meant to be. I believe it was and I'm so grateful you are here!

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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