One of my fellow yoga teachers, in her monthly newsletter recently, asked everyone what it was that brought them to yoga. She then told the beautiful story of how she herself discovered and incorporated yoga into her life. This got me to thinking about my own story and how yoga came to be such a big part of my life.

Back in 1998,  I’d been limping around for about two years because I’d incurred sciatic nerve damage from my pregnancy with Morgan (she was breech — butt first and folded in half, so her sitz bones were right on top of my sciatic nerve, grinding away every time she moved). That same year, I experienced my first panic attack. It woke me up in the middle of the night — I couldn’t breathe, my chest hurt, my left arm was numb. At the time, I swore I was having a heart attack and called 911, but the EMTs said I was fine. When I went to see my doctor the following day, he prescribed me Xanax and that was that. I took one and swore I’d never do it again…I hated the way it made me feel “loopy”…plus, I was home alone with Morgan alot (my first husband was rarely ever home), and I didn’t like thinking that if she were to wake up in the night, I might not be cognizant enough to hear her.

Fast forward a few months, and I’m going through the motions of a divorce, and not having an easy time dealing with it at all. I had another panic attack, this time at work, and my co-workers made me pay a visit to the doctor who happened to be on-site that day. He diagnosed mitral valve prolapse, because he could hear the distinctive “click” that it causes in the heartbeat. He basically said that either I need to make some lifestyle changes, or I’d have to be on medication for the rest of my life.

Here I was, 26 years old, limping around like a little old lady and starting to have panic attacks on a daily basis. Sometimes, the panic attacks were so bad, I’d have to pull over onto the side of the road, because I was afraid of passing out at the wheel. I finally realized I needed to do something, and I knew I didn’t want to be dependent on medication.

After researching and talking to people, I decided to give yoga a try. I started with videos, because I was too afraid to practice with people. Right away, I noticed a difference and realized this was what I was looking for. Within a very short amount of time, my sciatic pain was completely gone, and my panic attacks subsided not long after that. I was hooked!

Eventually, I knew I needed more, so I swallowed my fear and went to my first class. As many of you know, the rest is history. I’ve been practicing since 1999. Because of everything yoga has done for me, I decided to become a teacher myself in 2002, so that I could share all the wonderful things I’ve learned with others.

The thing I love the most about yoga is that I will forever be a student. As I deepen my practice, I continually discover new things about my body and my soul. My practice continually evolves due to these wonderful and amazing discoveries, and I am constantly amazed to see how far I’ve come. I look forward to what is to come and what I will learn each and every day.

So, for those of you out there who practice yoga, what’s your story? What is it that brought you to yoga, and what is it that’s kept you there? I’d love to hear your stories!

Namaste,

Melanie

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