Like most everyone I know, I get a whole lot of email. Every day, at all hours, there are messages streaming into my inbox. Subjects are usually some combination of the necessary and less-than-necessary business of yoga, but every once in a while, something special comes through. Those who are connected to me through social media may have already seen this, but even so, it’s worth reading again:
Good morning. I am writing to let you know how you helped save my life.
I came out of the psychiatric hospital on June 19. I’m 43 years old and it was my 9th hospitalization, so you see, it’s always been a challenging thing to control. In the hospital, we had a volunteer come in twice a week and give yoga classes. I hadn’t done yoga for some 15 years so I was a little rusty. I also have chronic physical pain and my illnesses kept me immobile for years at a time. Still, in those simple poses I found peace and serenity. I left the hospital vowing to continue my practice.
My husband lost his job in May and since he was our primary bread winner and I had been hospitalized, we were destitute. I searched for free yoga classes and was beginning to lose hope until I found Blue Lotus. Even the name of your studio filled me with hope. I believed that I could come to your studio and find the peace and serenity I craved. I was right.
Throughout the summer, I attended as many community and pay-what-you-can yoga classes as I could. With you, I developed a strength I had forgotten I had. I discovered my breath and the infinite power it held. My body and mind healed in ways I did not know they were capable of.
Now that I’ve gone back to work and my husband has found a new job, I practice at home. You have given me a love for my body and its beauty and grace. I find that if I go more than a day or two between practices, I feel restless and my muscles cry for the release the stretching poses give.
Thank you. Your studio, your instructors, your serene space gave me back what I didn’t even know I was missing. Your summer program of offering multiple free and low cost classes helped save my life. I don’t say that lightly and I believe you are true angels on yoga mats.
Please feel free to share this with anyone you like. If any of you wonder if you really touch anyone, if you ever really reach anyone, please know that you do. You gave me a gift and I am honored and humbled.
Thank you for what you do. My heart, body, mind and soul are grateful to you. Please don’t ever stop. You do touch people, you do reach people, you are doing the universe’s best work.
All my love and gratitude,
I cannot tell you how many times I have read this letter. Here’s why:
- Truth. It’s a rare commodity these days. We are bombarded with half-truths and outright lies much of the time, and even in our daily communication with friends and colleagues it’s unusual to witness someone speaking the truth of their heart—complete and unabridged. Yet however rare it may be, somehow we still recognize truth when we see/hear it. It’s profoundly moving. It wakes something inside of us. Ideally it inspires in us the courage to also tell the truth, because that truth is a gift not just for its content but for the example it sets, the openness created in moments of true vulnerability. This is a precious reminder about how much lives under the surface that is worth sharing.
- Resonance. This letter brings me to tears because I have also experienced yoga’s power to save and to heal. Decades of practice have not in any way lessened the innate potential of the practice to guide me back to grace and help me connect to Spirit as I understand it. My yoga mat and meditation cushion have been my laboratory, my confessional, my refuge, my way in. And while my journey is in some ways different from this letter’s author, it is also in many ways exactly the same. What touches us from the outside does so because it already lives within.
- Impact. I haven’t shared this letter because I think we are doing something earth shattering with our summer Community Yoga programming. Rather, I’m sharing because 99.9% of the time, we don’t get to know how our work and our lives impact others. But that does not mean it doesn’t. We go about our days doing as best as we can, hoping we make a difference. This letter is a vital reminder that doing what you do in the world is important. That you touch people, help people, change people’s lives without even knowing it. You are important, unique, valuable, inimitable. You being you in the world is a gift, all the time. It’s a reminder about how essential it is for you to do you, bright and big or strong and subtle. We are intimately connected to each other in ways we cannot possibly estimate. And when we do our own work, when we tell the truth, when we shine our light, we send ripples of goodness into the world. And it helps. It heals. It is why we are here.
I’m grateful to the student who so bravely shared her story with all of us. I’m grateful to the teachers who offered their time- many of whom are new to teaching and in the struggles of their own worthiness- to give free and donation classes to our community. I’m grateful for all the students who take advantage of all the offerings we share- paid and unpaid- as it’s part of what makes the whole so very special.
I hope you’ll get on your mat today if you haven’t already. I hope you’ll feel the aliveness of your body, no matter what state it is in, and find healing in the power of spirit that rides on the breath. I hope it inspires you, feeds you, that you might do your own good work in the world. For unbeknownst to you, that work may just lift- or even save- another.