How Yoga Changed My Life

Posted by – September 21, 2011
Categories: Bodywork & Somatics

North Atlantic Books’ yogi lifestyle coach Dashama shares her journey from student to teacher through her transformative experiences with her yoga practice.

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Life Before Pranashama Yoga

The front cover of any beauty magazine is enough to drive me insane. I flip through the pages and photo after photo, I begin to hate myself more and more. Confusion sets in and I don’t even know who I am after a while.

Wait a minute! What’s happening here?

I hadn’t realized how much these beauty magazines were ruining my life until I woke up one morning bawling my eyes out. Somehow a portal of insight had opened up and I was able to see everything I hated about myself, head to toe, and it was just that: everything.

I’m petite and have crazy wild curly hair. I wasn’t born with an “adorable button nose” or perfectly straight teeth. My facial shape is slightly rounded, unlike the chiseled chins models have. Comparing myself to the images in magazines since age thirteen, I knew I was nothing like most of those models.

Early Beginnings as a Fledgling Yogi

Being a perfectionist and a Type-A personality, yoga was the antithesis of everything I had been doing my entire life. Although I was introduced to yoga as a kid by my mother, I only practiced the fun poses like handstands and the full wheel pose. Candle-gazing meditation was fun, but with no guidance, my mind was as chaotic as ever, even after years of practice. I would combine yoga poses with martial arts movements since that was more complementary for my over-the-top energy levels. Stretching was for after a long run only and I never considered a full or complete workout or practice.

After college graduation, I thought I had everything figured out until I started working a “real job” and fell into the darkest depression of my life. Those eighteen months working in a cubicle took me to a place where I had no joy in my life. I hated my job, my body, and my relationship. I hated my life and I needed a solution quickly.

A Student Becomes A Teacher

Luckily in this digital age, a quick internet search brought me to a yoga teacher training that changed my life forever. Ten weeks of simple stretches and breathing for hours on end brought me back to my soul. I was finally learning to love myself from the inside out and to let go of the pain in my heart from a broken childhood and the many traumatic events that had occurred over the course of my lifetime.

After I was a certified yoga teacher, I began to attend every class and workshop I could to gain more understanding into what appeared to be the most complete and profound science for human healing and transformation I had ever come to know. I’d walk into yoga class and most of my obsessive thoughts would begin to melt away. For those few moments in time, we were all the same, we were all one.

That was before I started teaching and practicing yoga more frequently and publicly. Suddenly even the sacred environment of yoga was a fashion show and a performance competition. On facebook it was becoming even more of a circus show. I felt conflicted between my love of the circus and my desire to find true and lasting peace within my heart, mind, and soul.

Developing a Home Practice

I began to shy away from taking public classes and developed a very strong practice at home, the place I felt most safe. The only judge was myself; the only competition was with myself. I felt so good, for the first time I wanted to share these new insights and revelations with the world!

That was the birth of my youtube blog and the hundreds of yoga videos I produced over the next six years. I wanted to help people in a safe and sacred way. The feedback I got from people began to pour in, and suddenly I was feeling under attack. Although I was receiving both positive and negative feedback, my insecure and fragile ego could only hear the insults. Looking back, I am grateful for the positive testimonials from people who told me the videos changed their life and helped them, as these were the comments that kept me inspired to continue.

Overcoming Negativity Through Yoga

I got mean comments from some very negative people. They criticized what I was wearing. My shorts were too short or too pink, my voice was too squeaky, my hair should be tied back more … and the list went on and on. I was faced with the same incessant judgment through this virtual portal that I had mistakenly assumed was safe and sacred. I began to think perhaps there is no escaping the negativity and darkness in this world. I decided to get stronger instead of giving up.

I deleted the mean comments and took the constructive ones to heart to guide me to become a better teacher and to share the information I had with the same lightness and joy I wanted to convey to my viewers.

The criticism never stopped, though. I realize this is part of human nature. Part of the human experience is to learn to turn off the volume to the critics (both external and inner critics) and turn up the volume from the fans and supporters in our lives. To love ourselves as we are, we should celebrate every moment of our lives, regardless of whether we match any unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty set by magazines.

I still have tendencies to Type-A perfectionism from time to time, but fortunately, with the practice of yoga, conscious breathing, and the observation of my thoughts through meditation, I am better equipped to deal with this. My life is a much more beautiful experience now and it is getting better all the time.

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For more inspired tips, clips, and advice, check out #DailyDashama on the North Atlantic Books twitter page. Retweet any #DailyDashama for a chance to win a free copy of Journey to Joyful: Transform Your Life with Pranashama Yoga. The winner will be announced October 3rd, 2011.

Tags: Yoga

About the Author

Dashama Konah Gordon, simply known as Dashama, is a yoga teacher, author, performing artist, and inspirational speaker. She cofounded the 30-Day Yoga Challenge, partnering with National Yoga Month (yogamonth.org), and is the star of five yoga DVDs. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.