How yoga saved my life

Now, let’s be clear. I don’t believe I would have died had I not found yoga. However, it did play a huge part in getting me back on my feet after a tragedy. That is not the only reason I say that yoga saved me, but that in and of itself makes me feel that it did.

I was 22 when someone I was very much in love with died of a heroin overdose. Maybe some time I will get into the details of that relationship, but for now, that’s really all you need to know about it for how it relates to my yoga journey.

Devastated and unsure of how to deal with this loss, I stayed in bed and out of work for a while. Nobody made me go do anything, of course, so I really just slept as much as I could. Sleep was like an escape from the truth of reality. But, deep in me somewhere, a part of me knew that I couldn’t keep this up forever, even though it was all I could muster myself to do at the time. This voice told me to get on my yoga mat, and if I did, that’d be enough for the day.

And so, I rolled out my mat. I laid there and I cried and then I got back in bed. I left my mat there, rolled out on my bedroom floor. So, the next time I woke up and saw it, that voice told me to get on, maybe try something. I did, like, the world’s longest Child’s Pose and then went back to bed. Eventually, I got on my mat and did some Down Dog’s and Vinyasas and got myself moving. This led me to leave my house and go back to work and be around people again (only after I had practiced my yoga that morning). When I emerged from my dark bedroom cave, I found out it was really only a couple of days, but it had felt like e t e r n i t y. I had found out that this practice helped me literally move through this grief with no real concept of time, because that wasn’t important. The important part was being present with the grief and letting that be there as I moved through the practice, and then through life.

I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. This man’s death hurts just as much now as it did the day he died and I am willing to accept that it may be that way for the rest of my life. It’s the experience that taught me to feel exactly what is coming up and not try to make it something else or stuff it down. If there’s pain, feel the pain and be with it. Move with it. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be forefront present every minute of every day, but I think if we allow ourselves to truly feel what’s coming up in times of loss or grief, it can be a tool and teach us how to truly feel love, appreciation, joy.

So, that’s how yoga saved my life. I will leave you with this:

If you are experiencing loss, pain, grief, trauma, anything -- allow yourself to feel the emotions. And maybe you’ll notice just how truly beautiful the beauty in this world is, more than you’ve ever noticed before.


Vincent Gulino