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Beyond the Physical Practice of Yoga, guest post by Chelsea Chapman

First, I brought yoga my broken body.

Then, I brought yoga my broken heart.

I came to yoga in the fall of 2015 after a second bout of rhabdomyalysis, a form of lactic acid poisoning brought on by the overworking and extreme use of a particular muscle.

After that second hospital stay, my doctor told me that I had to stop; the running 3-4 miles a day, the cross training twice a day, the absolute abuse I was putting my body through day after day in the form of my workouts.

My life depended on the immediate cessation of the lifestyle that was killing me.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t working, I couldn’t imagine stopping. As difficult as it is to admit this now, I was literally obsessed with getting back to my ever-allusive wedding weight. After bearing 2 beautiful baby girls, I was desperate to lose the extra 30lbs I was carrying. I was pretty much willing to do anything it took to lose it.

My patterns were awful. I’d starve myself, and then relish the feeling of having power over my body, forcing it to train without nourishment, believing I was doing what was best, what would work, what would get me back to the girl I had once been. I relished the feeling of being hungry, out of breath, and sore, believing that I was exhibiting control and working hard. In short, I was in a cycle of self-abuse that, despite my unrelenting commitment, never worked.

I couldn’t lose a pound.

Hearing that I had to stop was terrifying to me.

“All you’re allowed, Chels, is yoga,” my doctor had said, “but you can do as much of that as you want.”

I had never tried yoga. I was never a dancer, nor was I flexible or even graceful.

I was an athlete, through and through, and had been my whole life.

How in the world was I going to become a yogi?

Still, it was my only option.

I started at home with youtube videos because I was too intimidated to actually go to a class. It didn’t take long for me to feel the benefits of breath and intentionality; the beautiful act of caring FOR my body, rather than working AGAINST it.

Eventually, I got up the courage to go to a class, and my life was never the same. My first yoga teacher, Angie, had the most beautiful accent. I loved listening to her as she cued the class, leading us from one pose to the next, but more importantly, I loved the culture she emulated; one of smart and loving work, rather than hard, abusive work.

I started learning about nutrition rather than diets, and I threw myself into a yogi culture, which taught me how to listen to my body rather than ignore it.