Six years passed before I fully connected with yoga again. Oh, there had been a brief encounter taking a class with a teacher from India who had moved to the Tampa Bay area. With my natural flexibility I flowed easily from one pose to the next, remembering the photos from The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga. And then suddenly I was on my shoulders, legs reaching for the ceiling, silently laughing at finding myself there. The teacher encouraged me to continue learning the ancient science, actually told me I was a natural; I thanked him for that and planned on returning each week to learn more; but the life I had steadily built out of sand and illusion was coming apart quickly and damage control was all I had time to handle.
In 1982 I took my next yoga class. This was after years of study, practice, and experiment in theatre, dance and design. By this time I had moved between Continents living in Europe, traveling through Africa, South America and doing time in New York City. I had pushed my mind and body into a dark and depressing place with no idea how to extricate myself. I was exhausted from trying to break through some deep soul sadness that robbed me of any joy in life; so I packed my bags and went home to be nurtured by the sun. Driven by an intuitive knowing, I arrived in a small, sleepy Florida town and the white sands of Siesta Key. I had seen myself in a dream; I was walking this same stretch of beach each sunrise and sunset, until my soul found some peace and my body could be healed.
To support myself I began teaching dance in various studios and community centers. I also designed clothes, whipping them up on my sewing machine and selling them to local boutiques and to my students. I knew I was in the right place, but the heavy, dark cloud in my mind made it a struggle to get up in the morning and face the day. I had no money to see a therapist, who would only prescribe medications that I did not want to take, Valium being the drug of choice in those days. Instead I would visit the local library each afternoon and read medical texts and journals hoping to find a name for what I was feeling, what I was experiencing. It took time and some patience, but one day I found what I was looking for, a diagnosis that fit me to a tee. It was called “Major Depression”, and because of it I had isolated myself from family and friends, lived with a serious eating disorder for seven years, and lost the creative drive that had once came so easily to me. Psychological therapy and drugs were the recommended treatments, but in my heart I knew there was another way and I was determined to find what it was.
Then yoga came into my life once again.
A visiting dancer from New York City had been taking classes in the Bikram style of yoga and one afternoon she took me through the whole 26 postures. They were difficult, even to my dancers body, but there was something there I could not pinpoint. Yet, by the end of that class I knew I had found the way to heal myself. Excited and inspired I coupled my yoga practice with learning more about the foods I was eating, about how my internal body systems work, and what the stress of my lifestyle had caused on those systems. With this vital information I was able to put together a new lifestyle, a lifestyle I could live with and take one step at a time. A lifestyle that would ultimately save my life.
To be continued: Yoga and Born Again Christians