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inspiration of the month - bobbie merritt

What YOGA means to me

That is such a big question. It could have so many different answers depending on the state of one’s mind at the moment it is asked. If you were to ask me this question 15 years ago, I would have said ‘to lose weight so I can keep up with my kids’ and I would chuckle inside with a twinkle in my eye. 15 years. That has really gone by fast.

Today, YOGA has a whole new meaning to me, mentally, spiritually, and physically. See, in order to answer this question correctly, I had to ‘get out of my head’. Yes, I had to meditate. I couldn’t just answer this question or even write about it without contemplating.

When my youngest son was a senior in high school in 2011 (class of 2012), I was on top of the world; feeling great physically and mentally. A co-worker and I had started fitness classes at work – Yoga and Zumba. I taught the Zumba classes after work while Yoga was at lunch. I was going to football games and watching my son on Fridaynights performing for his high school band and spending Saturdays at The Shoe watching my oldest son march in The Best Damn Band in the Land. I was a member of the Columbus Chorus of Sweet Adeline’s and singing with my only sister, on the ‘big stage’. Things couldn’t have been more awesome. In 2012, I learned, finally, how to do crow. I remember this distinctly because I couldn’t believe that I actually managed to get into the pose without any difficulty. I also learned how to stand on my head (with a strap) against the wall. Those were the happiest days for me because I didn’t think I would ever have the strength to get myself up let alone hold it. I also ran in 3 5Ks in the same summer – another feat I didn’t think I would ever do. Yoga gave me the strength to do this. I began to see a side of me that I didn’t know, and yearned to know better.

Early in 2013, the tiredness began. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had no energy, was lethargic and in pain all over my body – nothing would relieve it. I couldn’t concentrate, my relationships starting falling apart; I couldn’t get along with anyone. When my ribs were broken by accident in February that year (by my beautiful black lab puppy) - I had to take a break from Yoga to heal for what seemed like forever. In March of that year I had just started working back into a Yoga routine when I broke the index finger on my right hand, again by accident. This time, I was sent for further testing that led to treatment of a condition that was causing my bones to be brittle. This led to more appointments, more treatment and, well, you get the idea. While all of this was going on, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis – the primary source of my all over joint inflammation. I had to drop out of all extra activities, including my Yoga classes, in order to get well. I switched from Vinyasa to restorative and learned to separate my mind from my pain through meditation.

I have such a long way to go and so much to learn. Yoga has opened the door to a straight and forward path to enlightenment for me. I am finally learning to accept myself as I am; learning to understand that I will have my good days and my bad days and it’s okay. Relationships are improving as I learned to accept the things I cannot change, like other people, for example. Yoga to me means HEALING. It means LIFE. Yoga has given me the ability to manage pain without medication; to breathe in light and breathe out darkness. Most important, Yoga has taught me to honor others with love and gratitude, and that the first person I start with is me. When we love and accept ourselves then, and only then, can we learn to honor the light in others. I thank all of the instructors at Burn, especially Teresa, who have helped me discover the beginning of the 8-fold path that will lead me to help others, which is what I have always been destined to do.

Bobbie Merritt

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