Soundtrack: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, by John Mayer
The Time: Circa Spring 2013
The Setting: U.S. Virgin Islands, St.Thomas
Occupation: Yacht Chef
The divorce was finally finalized, but the nightmares wouldn’t stop. Starting through the initial stages of the divorce these worst-case scenario nightmares started to haunt my nights. He wouldn’t sign the papers. He would use some manipulation to make sure I couldn’t divorce him. No matter what I did I couldn’t get out of the marriage. I would be living a different life and he would show up and take away everything again. My deepest rooted fears from all of the trauma of the marriage ending and divorce replayed over and over. I got to the point I began to fear going to sleep. I fasted. I prayed. I sought out prayer. I talked about it with close friends. I did everything I knew to do. I was in my own personal prison of trauma and subconscious fear, and nothing I did could shake it.
I had just returned to the Virgin Islands to work as a chef aboard term charter sailboats and was in between charters when one of my best girlfriends and workout buddies on the island suggested we hit up a yoga class she’d heard good things about for fun. I had done a handful of online classes in my living room as a teenager, so I was game.
The studio had an earthy hippy vibe and smelled like some kind of incense. As the class progressed the teacher would say things like, “Just be present. Take a big breath in a let something go when you exhale. Take in this moment. Feel your body. Connect with your body.”
At one point I was in trikonasona and the instructor, this beautiful woman who is the epitome of a woodsy earth mother goddess with prettiest curly hair came up to me and helped me adjust the pose by walking up next to me, against my back and hips towards her and taking one hand and rolling my top hip open more and one hand drawing my top shoulder open a little more. When she touched me the best way I can explain it is I felt this kindness and compassion connection and immediately started tearing up. I didn’t understand why I started crying in the middle of a yoga class and I then realized no one had physically touched me in a loving non-sexual way in about four months. For her to come up and connect with me in a physical hands-on way and to encourage me to drop my judgements and focus on my breath was something I had never experienced before. This started a new relationship towards my physical body as well as my self, and the dreams stopped immediately. I noticed if I was away on charter for extended amounts of time and not physically practicing I would start having negative dreams again, but that helped me learn the connection of movement and breath in processing and releasing trauma and emotional memory I held in my physical body.
This is what began my yogic journey through life, and this is the reason I ultimately became a yoga instructor. To hold the space for another person to learn a new way to relate with themselves, their problems and experiences is one of the most honorable, sacred things I personally can do for another person. That’s how yoga came into my life.