I laid in child’s pose with tears dripping from my eyes on to my yoga mat. I repeated silently in my mind, “I forgive. I forgive myself for the poison. I forgive myself for the damage. I forgive myself for all the times I was too hard on myself. I forgive.”
I was learning the staples of self-love at Prairie Love Yoga Festival. The instructor, Alex Mazerolle guided me through a life changing experience. She spoke about acceptance and love and how we need to first love ourselves fully and completely in order to make the changes we want to see.
Forgiving myself for the relationship I had with alcohol was a hurdle that I didn’t know I needed to cross. Or if I somehow did know in the back of my mind, I had no idea how to forgive myself. I lacked the tools. I now know that forgiveness begins with love.
I stood up and moved my body into warrior pose, my eyes blurry from the tears. I bent my back and lifted my arm and hand into reverse warrior, and looked high above me and felt completely different than when I was crying into my yoga mat. Alex assured us that it is OK to cry during yoga and it is one of the most powerful ways to honor ourselves. I was clearly not the only one moved by her words.
The five sessions that I attended Saturday at the festival were all unique and unlike any experience I have had before.
My first session of the day was instructed by Marisa Krol who coincidentally was the same instructor I had when I dropped into a yoga class a couple months ago during a dark time with depression. I remember walking into the studio and thinking, “I belong here.” She led me through my practice when I needed to be gentle and kind to my body. With my practice on Saturday, I felt strong and courageous.
I attended another session where we grooved to slow, mellow beats. I practiced in the sunshine and swayed between poses to the sound of the music. As a beginner, the instructor saw me struggling to get comfortable in pigeon pose and graciously helped me find a position I could work with. I was around a lot of advanced yogi’s at the festival but I never once felt out of place.
The last two sessions I attended did not include a lot of physical yoga and instead I learned about yoga philosophy, breathing exercises, meditation, visualization, and journaling. I feel as if a whole world has appeared right in front of me and I feel accepted for who I am and how I want yoga to work for me. I feel truly amazing after giving myself the gift of attending the festival. It is a gift that will continue to grow.