Yoga Helped Me Realize I Wasn’t Broken
Theresa Polley
February 20, 2024
March 7, 2024
My Journey

In the early 2000s when I was busy taking cycle and strength classes at the gym, I wondered why all the buzz around yoga. I initially avoided yoga, thinking as I observed a yoga class - “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 and a few weeks later I was laid off from my corporate job. At that point, all I wanted to do was lay on the floor and cry. After being told repeatedly that I was incapable and unworthy, I felt broken beyond repair.

My friends encouraged me to try yoga. Not knowing what else to do I gave it a try. I skipped over Beginner Yoga and went directly to Power Yoga - thinking how hard can it be? I got my butt kicked! 

More importantly, I realized I wasn’t broken, in spite of the voices of former partners in my head telling me otherwise. I was going through a challenging time and I would survive. And eventually tune out any voice that was trying to tear me down instead of lift me up.

You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside. ~Wayne Dyer

It's painful living life distracted from our feelings. Diving deep into my emotions allowed me to find freedom and hope. Yoga reminded me that while I can't control a lot of things, I can control myself. I can choose so much. What to let go of and what to hold onto. My actions. How I show up in the world. That revelation was powerful.

If you're ready to start your yoga journey or need a refresher, here's a great place to start.

Yoga Took Me to Healing and Acceptance

Not only did I find myself on my Yoga mat, I began the intense journey to embrace myself for exactly who I was - something I struggled with for years. Not just my body - that too - but all of me. Surrendering control of what was going on outside to focus on myself and what was going on within, started me on my path to healing.

Embracing the parts of me that were too much wasn't easy. After years of being told by partners that I was too much had made me anxious and fearful. I knew the judgement was about expressing my emotions;  but the judgement also felt like it was about my dreams and ideas, my personality, my laugh. Yoga taught me it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the men who belittled me.

Diving into teacher training allowed me to connect with parts of myself I had buried. After trying so hard to be the perfect wife and mother, I realized I needed to be me. Whatever that looked like. I had distracted myself from the feelings of hopelessness and unworthyness with drinking wine or shopping at Target. It was all about avoidance. I was afraid to acknowledge the real me, let alone be myself.

Yoga is so Much More Than Physical

My yoga practice has changed as my life changed. 

What used to get me excited was a power vinyasa class in a 100 degree room - with as many arm balances as possible. Now I prefer gentle stretching and breathing and definitely an extra long final relaxation. Some days my yoga practice is a few minutes before bed and that is perfect.

The principles of Yoga continue to guide my life and allow me to view myself and others in with more patience and less expectations. My daily gratitude practice gives me compassion and empathy. I put my phone away and focus on the people and experiences right in front of me; where I find contentment and joy.

Through the years, just like you, I’ve struggled and faced challenges in my life. I always come back to the stillness I discovered on my yoga mat all those years ago. I remind myself that distracting myself will not heal me. Instead I must allow myself to feel my feelings (no matter how painful they are) and I know I will always find hope.

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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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