In 2015 I was a student of SUNY Polytechnic Institute studying psychology, there was one course specifically that changed the entire trajectory of my life, personally and professionally. This was a course called Health Psychology that focused on the mind-body-spirit connection.
At this time in my life I was a senior in college who had doubled up on coursework to graduate early, I was spending my weekends visiting a loved one who was ill and my romantic relationship of over 3 years was seemingly coming to an end. I was STRESSED. At the time concepts of "self care" were something I had not been exposed to yet, I was trying to get through it all by studying hard and scrolling social media in my free time, that is until my Health Psychology professor, Dr. Jo, asked us to do a self evaluation. Mentally I was "failing", physically "failing" and spiritually "failed". I knew that it was time for a change but how? I didn't have the time or energy to start working out, see a therapist and explore my spiritual beliefs. That's when the practice of yoga fell into my lap, it was perfect, it is THE mind-body-spirit practice.
There was no need for me to spend 3 hours a day working on each area of my wellbeing, one seemingly flawless practice handled it all. I found a teacher on YouTube that had two 10 minute videos one called "Clear Your Mind" and the other called "Get Happy", so that's what I did, cleared my mind and got happy. If I was stressed about school "Clear Your Mind" and "Get Happy". If I got in an argument with my partner "Clear Your Mind" and "Get Happy". It became my solution to nearly everything. For the first time in my life I felt like I was starting to thrive.
As I quickly approached my graduation I knew that I wasn't ready to go into the field, I also knew that I wasn't ready to continue my schooling, but I knew I had to do something. Very quickly one thing lead to another and before I knew it I was on a flight to Florida where I spent the next month studying this incredible practice with 10 other students. When I got home from training I started teaching immediately, I wanted to share the healing with anyone and everyone that would listen.
My journey of recovery was a testimony of how transformational this practice could be. That is until a few short years later when I found myself stressed, burnt out and more depressed than I had ever been in my life. How could this practice that was once my saving grace somehow become the source of my misery? I took a 3 year hiatus to look inward and find out. What I discovered was, what I had learned years prior as a student of psychology was more relevant now than it had ever been before. My mind, body and soul were working against each other instead of a synchronistic harmony. My body was becoming physically injured randomly during my practice; a back injury, a knee injury, a hip injury, left me immobilized. My mind was tired, stressed and burnt-out, taking on far more than I could handle or enjoy (all because subconsciously I didn't feel like I was good enough or like I had enough so I constantly was striving to do and be more). My spirit was aching and detached from myself, it kept pulling me to teach new things and share new things by my mind convinced it otherwise always petitioning for the safest most likeable option (chronic people pleasing and perfectionism). As I came to these realizations, I decided I no longer wanted to just survive, I wanted to thrive, and not in the work hard, push through, sense but in the ease, peace, let your shoulders down sense. So what does it look like to be well mentally, physically and spiritually? For me it helped to understand how these things are all interconnected.
For starters, the mind body connection is HUGE and far greater than I could ever cover in a single blog post but here's the gist of it. Think of how you feel physically when you are dealing with stress and anxiety. Headaches, neck and shoulder pain, tightness in your chest, nausea in your belly. Your mind has massive power over your body. But the same is true for your body, when you lack sleep your mind suffers, when you miss a meal you get hangry, when you are in pain it makes you grumpy, when you aren't eating well your hormones are impacted which have a huge impact on your mental health. It's all connected.
If I were to tell you that next to me right now was a person struggling with depression and I asked you to describe how they look you might say that they are slouching, their gaze is down, they are frowning, etc. But if I said instead that there was someone next to me that was happy and excited, how would you describe that person? Very differently. A smile, bright eyed, better posture, etc. The mental state manifests in the physical body in more ways that you can imagine. And the state of the physical body causes more mental changes than you can imagine.
As I've gotten more and more in touch with my mind, body and soul, I've realized that wellness is more than an hour long yoga practice. True wellness is in the food that we eat, in the quality of sleep we receive, in the time we spend in nature, in the media that we consume, in the people we spend our time with, in the water that we drink. You can't simply eat well and expect to be healthy. You can't exercise only and expect to thrive. You have to look at yourself a whole being, fully interconnected, not separate segments to be picked apart and diagnosed individually.
The Wheel of Life
Yoga is an amazing practice, it will always be part of my life. But what I do off the mat has proven to be even more essential than the few postures and deep breaths I take each morning. Your entire life is a reflection of you. Everywhere you go, there you are. Whether it's YOUr relationships, YOUr career, YOUr hobbies, YOUr passions, YOUr purpose. The common denominator is always YOU. If you are not mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually thriving, you can't expect a single other area of your life to be abundant and thrive as well. It starts and ends with YOU.
With that, Full Lotus Yoga & Wellness reopens in just 10 days. A space with a vision to help you become the version of yourself that you truly desire to be and to create a life that you truly desire to live.
It's time to thrive!