I received the gift of yoga through a man I now regard very highly for his laid back approach and the humor he brings to the practice of yoga; that man’s name is Steve Ross. At the age of seventeen I discovered yoga after self- recovering from an eating disorder. Yoga allowed me to be present in my body and love and show gratitude for all that it was able to endure. I started practicing as a way to calm and quiet the anxiety screaming at me from the inside on a daily basis. Yoga also helped me recover from self-injury, an abusive relationship and countless other traumas.
When I first began practicing yoga there was a program on the oxygen channel called Exhale led by the yogi Steve Ross. Upon seeing a commercial for the program I decided that I would wake the next morning before school and try it out, “what do I have to lose?” I asked myself. Blithely unaware of what I was to gain I awoke the next morning at 5:30am and prepared to practice yoga for the first time. What I gained that morning cannot be expressed through words. I was given the gift of patience, intuition, self-control, self-awareness, love radiating from every pore of my body, and the ability to calm the noise around me. I found many challenges in the practice that Steve taught, he teaches hatha and to this day I love hatha for the challenge it presents to all who practice it, both physically and spiritually. Although the program proved to be a challenge for me I woke every morning my senior year of high school and joined the Exhale class from my bedroom. I learned more about me in those months than I ever realized was possible. I learned that I am strong and independent. I learned that when presented with a challenging situation I can see it through. I learned to be honest and loving. I learned to open my heart even when it seemed impossible. As a teenager I knew that sharing the gift of yoga was my life path; one that I have yet to realize.
In my early twenties I decided that I wanted to deepen my practice and become more serious so I began to seek out a new path. What I discovered was the connection of mind and body in a very profound way. I don’t remember quite how I stumbled upon the wisdom of Sean Corn, but I remain forever grateful for her wholesome approach to vinyasa. Through the practice of vinyasa I learned to slow down, to take time and use my breathe to move through asanas without forcing my body to fit into the mold of what yoga “should” look like. Vinyasa has been for me just as challenging as hatha, but at the same time it has allowed me to connect more deeply with my inner light and truth while focusing on my breath as a catalyst to change.
I have had yoga through the last ten years of my life always turning to it in times of struggle and change. Yoga has helped me to be a better human being, to look at another and realize that their past is in direct relation to their future, but that it doesn’t need to determine where they move into the future. I want to become a certified yoga instructor because I believe that my life’s path is to help others; to help them heal, to help them change and change the world around them. I want to connect with under-privileged youth and prison inmates through the practice of yoga. I want to show them that they are more than the restrictions society has placed upon them because of where they come from and the situations they may have fallen into. I want to help the people society has forgotten because someone has to. I want to be the person to help those who think their souls are forgotten, I want to help them look inside and see what their truth is and help them use that to soar into the future.
I discovered the Leela Mata Peaceful Valley Ashram Yoga and Retreat Center through a poster hanging in a local café. I took a picture of that poster and one of the cards as a reminder to hang on my vision board, hoping that someday the universe would present me with the opportunity to visit and study at the ashram. I believe that this is my opportunity to become the person I have always dreamed of being.
2012 Yoga Scholarship Essay
By: Sara Schneider
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