Sun, Sand, & Yoga: How Yoga Changed my Life
If you feel safe, close your eyes and imagine this. Waking up at 4:44am and leaving the comfort of your warm bed to get dressed in your comfy yoga clothes and an oversized sweater. Walking down stairs to coffee or tea and out the door with your yoga mat into the darkness. The sun isn’t up yet but you are. Walking down to the dock is a quiet moment of stillness, watching the light on the horizon start to illuminate the shrubbery, trees and shoreline. On the dock there’s your spot, you lay out your mat, sit down and wait for sunrise yoga to start. The air is cool and the vibe is quiet and soft. This is how my morning starts once a week and twice if i’m lucky. Its where my soul connects inwards, to this space, and to my intimate yoga community that I’ve built over the last 10 years.
You and I are probably similar if the happiness and wellbeing of another person is just as or more essential than your own. People-pleasing is what some people call it. Making sure you make everyone feel heard, loved, and showing interest in their life and happiness, it is easy to get lost and forget how essential your happiness and wellbeing is. I feel everything worthwhile is a lifelong journey uncovering the layers of self that were built upon your experiences since birth until now. Growing up, I tirelessly gave my soul, energy and spirit to others hoping to gain approval and finally feel like I was enough. Reflecting brings clarity or hindsight is 20/20 as some people say. Before motherhood and yoga I experienced headaches, kidney problems and stomach issues I didn’t know were mostly tied to my life experiences and manifested as dis-ease within the body. It took me 25+ years to dive within, trust myself and listen to what my body was telling me. At 32, I can say I can reflect with less reaction and with more clarity as to why things unfolded the way they did.
In 2015 I applied to a Yoga Teacher training in Muskoka, Ontario. It was for prenatal yoga and as an obstetrical nurse of 2 years at the time I knew in my heart I needed to take this training. It was my first exposure to the world of uncovering a sense of self, nourishing my soul and finding the balance of owning my truth, purpose and calling while serving others. It was and still is the most beautiful balance. In 2016 I attended my first RYT 200 hour training in Peterborough and this was a pivotal moment in peeling back the layers of enmeshment, co-dependency and people pleasing and moving through the 7 chakras of my own soul. I remember on week two, during the exploration of the svadisthana chakra, or the sacral chakra, it was an emotional day for me - how could it not be as this is the emotional chakra centre of creativity, pleasure and enjoyment. I cried throughout the full 3 hour morning discussion and yoga flow. Something within me needed to let go and I felt safe enough to let it. Throughout the 7 chakras there were yoga flows, journalling, meditation, peer feedback and exercises that tested us all in different ways. They were life changing and I will always be so appreciative for that space and group of people I connected with. This was my first glimpse into an unconditional and loving community.
In motherhood, starting in 2017, I lost my self and found my soul. I don’t need to tell you how hard motherhood is - for those in it, you know. I didn’t want my sweet souls to people please, say what I wanted to hear, behave like I wanted them to behave. There are definitely times and places to parent the way you need in the moment and that’s individual to your experience and situation. Everyone wants to give you feedback and tell you what worked for them or shame you for trying something out of the norm. I know now it wasn’t just me experiencing this and through the tears, tiredness, anger, frustration, learning and challenges I began to grow consciously and rebuild all that had been torn apart by the rawness of motherhood. Though these are the most challenging moments of my life so far, I slowly created the space, soul and life I wanted beyond everyones expectations. I believed in the vitality of a self-care routine and grace on the days I did very little. I realized that yoga was a way to unwind physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I began to share that with my community. That community grew gradually and organically through word of mouth and connection. The friends I’ve made with people who had faith in yoga and finding something outside of themselves and their role as mama has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. These girls and mamas openly share their experiences in motherhood with one another without judgement which feels like a safe haven for me. They are allowed to share their experiences and opinions without judgement, the feel open enough to share intimate details of motherhood, who they are and support like your soulmate would have. They support my business, community and what oceansoulyoga has turned into. They are the friends I want to be able to call anytime, to drop in and have a coffee and to share what I’m experiencing with compassion and freedom. Yoga has uncovered and supported all of our souls so beautifully together - especially during our sunrise yoga.
Yoga allowed me the space to safely let go, gave me permission to feel, to untangle the enmeshed rules, standards and people pleasing ways deep within me. To go inward and sit with yourself can be deafening and terrifying. It uncovers what you don’t want to uncover sometimes and it gives space to all that truly is meant to be there and allows us to release the rest. I can finally be more of myself and bare my soul with my clients and in these friendships. The ones where authenticity is more than a buzz word. I didn’t really know who that was before i lost who i thought i was in the depths of motherhood, and came out on the other side with what i feel is the most real, with people who don’t expect anything from me and can bare their souls honestly. we connect in a way i didn’t know existed and it happened so gradually i didn’t know it was happening at all. I found this through sunrise yoga, through teaching, through baring my soul, the hard, the mess, the blessings and the sunshine.
I’ve gone to therapy, cleaned out things in storage and streamlined my wardrobe, journaled, meditated, bought an online fitness program, taught yoga more, read wellness books that interested me rather than the hottest read, let go of friendships that weren’t serving me removed what was staying in my life out of comfort and not my growth. I am not sure if it was one thing more than another, but I felt a stillness. It felt like the calmest morning lake waters - the stillness just as the sun is rising, the air is cool, my sweater is cozy and I’m surrounded with the comfort of who I am, who I have grown into and the sweet souls who support, believe and cherish our friendship.
Stephanie is a mama of (soon to be) 3 beautiful wild souls. She is an obstetrical nurse of 9 years and a yoga teacher to mamas within her community and virtually across the globe. She created oceansoulyoga to share her love for the ocean, the fluidity of water and the permission for mamas to rest and support their souls. Stephanie teaches virtually at oceansoulmamas.com and in person in Brockville, Ontario. Her yogic passion is teaching mamas through prenatal, postnatal, fertility and vinyasa yoga to support her soul and theirs as one. Follow @oceansoulyoga on instagram for inspiration, authenticity and the most beautiful sunrises.