A few times a month I have the great pleasure of volunteer teaching at a local hospital that provides care and recovery from substance abuse/addiction, as well as various mental health disorders. I work primarily in the detox unit, and as you can imagine I see a lot of interesting and often unpredictable behavior. I never know what I’m walking into on any given day, and it’s always a “go with the flow” type situation. Sometimes I leave the hospital with a heavy heart, fighting back tears until I can make it back to the car (empath here). Other times I leave with a feeling of joy and lightness, knowing that my time there really did make a difference in even one person’s life. Regardless, I always leave feeling humbled, and this opportunity has been such an absolute blessing to me.

It’s funny because although I’m the yoga teacher, I feel like I’m the one who is really being taught the lesson. I’ve learned that we all struggle in our own ways but that we are all human and are deserving of love and respect. I’ve learned that ultimately we all want to be healthy, happy, and accepted. I’ve learned that we all need connection. I’ve learned that we all have a strong desire to be seen and heard. And I’ve learned that most of us are doing the best we can with the tools we have been given.

As someone who has seen the effects of addiction and severe mental illness firsthand, I have always had a soft heart for this community and a strong desire to help in some capacity. For the longest time, I didn’t know where to begin; I couldn’t understand how someone like me could possibly make a difference. But now the pieces have come together (as they always do), and I am able to use something that changed my life so deeply (yoga!) to impact other lives, helping to create connection and empowerment in this often under-served community. To me, there is no greater honor and nothing more fulfilling than knowing I am sharing the lessons I’ve learned along my own journey in hopes of helping others find transformation along theirs.

“Successful people repurpose the messes of their lives in ways that other people don’t.” -Ed Mylett

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my own share of messes. For me, it wasn’t addiction. But it was depression. It was unhealthy relationships with others. It was negative thought patterns and self sabotage. It was a broken spirit and a faltering faith in God. Yoga was instrumental in helping me heal these things in my life, and I can now appreciate all the mountains I had to climb to get to the other side. I see clearly that it is my life’s work to turn my personal messes into my message to others. On the surface, my message is yoga, but deep down it is about understanding, healing, and love.

You see, when you allow your mess to become your message you know you have found your purpose. The pain of the mess turns into the joy of a higher calling, of living your truth, and of making a difference. Your tests become your testimony to others. And that to me is what life is all about.