• The Gift Yoga Brought Me

    I discovered yoga around the age of 19 and felt somehow that my difference was not important when practicing yoga. We were all different somehow but shared the commonality of practicing yoga.

    For many of us growing up was an interesting process.

    We may have been different in some way from the majority of others and started to realise these differences in childhood, in our teenage years or later.

    For me I knew I was gay from a young age, but also knew this was not accepted openly while growing up–by my peers, my teachers, my family. This meant I had to develop skills to keep part of myself sublimated, hidden from others, so my sense of identity became fragmented.

    I discovered yoga around the age of 19 and felt somehow that my difference was not important when practicing yoga. We were all different somehow but shared the commonality of practicing yoga.

    I think I was lucky and found some very open, compassionate, and aware teachers.

    And the magical gift that I discovered was savasana.

    Lying on the floor in the stillness and quiet after doing all these weird postures with belts and chairs and straps on the wall (it was Iyengar!), noticing the quality of the light, the air of my skin, being aware of lying in the room with everyone else but at the same time coming into my own space, and being happy and content just to lie there for a few moments, with myself, at one with myself. I felt integrated, whole, and self-accepted.

    And all of this from within myself.

    Yoga allowed me to find a sense of personal integration and a renewed sense of identity connected deeply within myself. We could argue that the sense of self I felt had a more cosmic meaning, but it didn’t matter because I felt it anyway.

    To say yoga saved my life is cliche, a hackneyed phrase. But if you know, you know.

    This blog was originally a post of Ashley’s Instagram.

    By Ashley Russell

    Ashley Russell is a Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals and an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) Therapist living in Bristol, UK. He teaches for the Bristol School of Yoga on their 200 and 500 hour programs. With a background of over 25 years of both teaching yoga and working in the mental health field he brings a broad range of skills to the transformative power that yoga can provide. He lives in Bristol, UK with his husband choreographer Adam Hougland.

    Follow Ashely’s Instagram account.

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