How yoga changed my life

I was practicing yoga just about every day. Then, I didn’t really have a full understanding of the effect that yoga was having on my life, but I knew it was happening and I recognized that it was profound. I knew there was something there that I couldn’t quite touch and I needed to figure it out. It just so happened that I also really wanted to teach yoga classes, so I was really wanting to do a teacher training. I wanted to go deeper into the philosophy and learn what the gold was of this practice, and I wanted to learn how to safely guide people through the physical practice without injury.

I was only at the second studio I tried before deciding that this was it. I met Lara Heimann and took a class and when I spoke with her afterwards, she said how important teaching anatomy and safe movement patterns was to her and I was sold. I had never heard a yoga instructor speak about the body the way she did, lead a class the way she did, or stress the importance of anatomy knowledge before, and I was really excited.

I immediately signed up for the training for that upcoming August. It was February when I signed up, so I eagerly waited for and anticipated this training. I was ready for a life change, and boy I really wanted one. I wasn’t looking to become a “spiritual” person through this training. I was there to learn about the body and more aspects of the yoga practice. I was looking for facts.

As it turns out, I signed up for exactly what I was looking for, and more. This training was created and led by Lara, who is a physical therapist and I think is just brilliant. She has such a passion for teaching anatomy and healthy movement patterns and I just soaked that stuff right up. I was initially quite intimidated by learning any anatomy itself, as I had some friends take Anatomy 101 in college and they all said it was their hardest class. But, this way of learning it was accessible and a way where I could take what I’ve learned and apply it to not only my yoga practice, but my LIFE because I was learning to stand up better, walk better, sit better (less), and more. That blew my mind. The fact that I could take what I learned about the physical practice into life just blew my mind wide open.

Thank goodness for my intent to find a training with it’s foundation in anatomy and safe movement patterns. It was through this where I began to learn about awareness and consciousness and I started opening up to learning about things I hadn’t “believed” in before. When I said I wasn’t looking to become a “spiritual” person, I meant it, but with the facts I learned and this newfound awareness and openness to learning, that’s exactly what started happening.

I gradually started trying new things I hadn’t paid too much attention to before. It started with meditations, then I started becoming interested in crystals, stones and gems, and my new thing has been Astrology.

Here’s the funny part about all of this is that before I became more aware of my body and opened up, I was adamant that Astrology was nothing more than a pseudoscience that didn’t have a strong foundation in research and wasn’t backed up science. My friends will all tell you, I had NO ROOM for that topic in my life. It wasn’t real, I was convinced, and my friends couldn’t convince me otherwise. I can still see the eye rolls and sighs from my friends as they dropped the subject and let me think what I wanted to think.

If there’s one thing I can say that I like about myself, it’s when I actually see a different side of things and understand there’s things I don’t know, I do my best to drop all of my preconceived ideas about the subject and commit to fully diving in and immersing myself in learning new information. When I started opening up and reading and listening about meditation, crystals and astrology, I found that there actually is science-based research on these topics and I was previously so wrong about them. So, immerse myself I did and continue to do. Some of my friends even come to me now when they want a quick answer to something about crystals and/or Astrology!

I’ve learned so much and through studying and practicing these subjects with awareness and critical thinking mind, my life has changed. I’m much more aware of myself and my behaviors. I’ve learned what certain feelings actually are, like anxiety and depression for example, and by identifying these things I’ve been able to work through some major issues in my life.

Two ingredients that I mentioned are what really makes this work for me; awareness and critical thinking. It’s not enough to just be aware and it’s not enough to just think critically. But, using these two ingredients together is what has brought me to confidently feeling that I am on the path to consciousness, or enlightenment.

Finding this path has taught me a lot. Through this learning, I’ve grown and changed a TON (for the better, at least I think). I’m so much more grateful, I’m so much happier, way less anxious, and willing to look at things in my life and decide if that’s something I want to keep or detach from. Simply, the path of consciousness has helped me realize that everything is changing all of the time, and it’s safe for me to also change if it’s through positive learning and growth. Even more simply, I’ve learned that:

Awareness + Critical Thinking = Consciousness

Through this formula, I’ve become and continue to become the very best version of myself. That’s more than I ever could have hoped for.

Vincent Gulino