Jonica has been a yoga practitioner for over 10 years now and recently completed her wellness coaching credential. She has taken the time to share her story with you.....
If asked to describe myself 9 years ago I would have said: I’m competitive. I’m confident. I’m a dancer. The glitter of dance costumes fill my closets with
memories of an amazing childhood. I started dancing when I was 2 ½, I fell in love with the stage, the lights, the rhinestones, oh the rhinestones. For 16 years the dance studio became my home away from home, my teachers and teammates, my extended family and pink tights my second skin. Our family vacations were centered around national competitions every summer and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way, but don’t ask my cousin the same question. So how could something so amazing be in a personal recollection of trauma? It wasn’t until I unrolled my mat in Yoga Teacher Training where I realized, trauma doesn’t have to exist from one catastrophic event, my trauma wasn’t born from extreme hardship or pain, but from years of flawed self thinking and the ending of who I defined myself as: a dancer.
I stopped dancing 3 years before I stepped onto my mat, the real truth was: I wasn’t a dancer. I wasn’t confident and the only person I was in true competition with was myself. I was seeking a way to redefine myself after ending a relationship of 16 years, no longer would I be Jonica the dancer, but Jonica the yoga extraordinaire. I walked into the yoga studio, I had the mat, the outfit and flexibility to excel at a vinyasa flow. I was prepared to be praised for my grace, balance and incredible oversplit. When the class was over I walked out of the room, a lot sweatier than I could have ever imagined, the teacher asked me what my intention was during class. I wasn’t paying attention to any of that spiritual talk before class but I said my intention was to move my body, she sweetly took a moment to rephrase the question. “What were you thinking about as you moved?” I lied, I said I was just trying to keep up. If I was to tell the truth I was thinking, am I the most flexible in this room? Oh lord why do I have rolls on my belly in this pose? Do they think I look fat? Why isn’t she praising me? I should be better at this, I mean for God sake I can take on a tiny wooden box in my pointe for hours and I barely make it through this studio yoga class? Two months later, I signed up for Teacher Training.
Teacher Training allowed me to shed light on my personal trauma. For years I stood in a wide open room with floor to ceiling mirrors and wood floors, much like the one I studied yoga in, but this time, there was no winner. There were no trophies for who did the best mountain pose, or who nailed their chaturanga demo and me losing a few pounds wouldn’t make me any better than yogi next to me. I no longer needed to “fake it till I make it” and confidence didn’t come from being the best but it came from the practice of self love. Practice used to be a stepping stone to perfection or that big trophy I so desired for my self-worth, in yoga practice is doing the best with what you have in that given moment.
Healing from years of flawed thinking wasn’t cured in one Teacher Training journal entry, that would be too easy. But yoga gave me the tools to practice self love moment by moment, day by day, simply doing the best I can and knowing that is enough. As someone who thrives on movement, I find healing in the form of moving mediation, vinyasa meaning to place in a special way. Moving breath to movement allows me to channel those same euphoric feelings dance provided for 16 years, a way to experience life through movement, to tell a story, to feel artistic in my own body, while focusing on healing my thoughts and creating a path of self love rather than self destruction.
The practice of yoga has given me the tools to rewire the way I think and unveil my truest self. I am strong and safe in my own skin. I am continuously seeking growth. I am artistic. I am connected to my most authentic self. I am enough.