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Creating Space: The Final Frontier

There is absolutely nothing worse in the world than walking into a place and feeling that overwhelming sense of “this isn’t where I am supposed to be, I don’t feel safe, I feel like everyone wants me to leave”

Let me set the scene for you...

My therapist had been suggesting yoga to me every week for months now, telling me that ‘you might feel better if you have a physical outlet for all of the nervous energy you’re storing in your body and like okay, maybe she’s right, the yoga I had been doing in the living room of my childhood home every so often had been going… okay… maybe it would’ve been better if I wasn’t so scared of waking everyone up at 11 PM, it would’ve been better if maybe in supine twists my dog wouldn’t set toys in my open palm… Yes, the open palm was for receiving energy but, a slobbery, smelly dog toy in an unsuspecting hand is admittedly not quite the energy I was looking for. I could see the benefits of yoga but the space I was in wouldn’t allow me to get to any of them. So, naturally, my next step was to find a studio.

Walking into my first studio in my rural NC hometown was absolutely terrifying. I was one gust of wind away from falling over on the way into the building because, how do you even get in there? Where are the stairs? What if everyone is in class already and I make too much noise? What if i'm late? WHAT IF I'M TOO EARLY?? Anxiety havers know this drill, I was so deep in my head walking into the building my hands were shaking when I took my waiver from the lady at the front desk.

Getting my mat set up was a whole other time. Here I was, some terrified little 18-year-old emo in the back, looking like a chihuahua. Everyone in the room had to be over 50 and knew the teacher on a personal level. I caught a couple of glances as I set my mat up, no props tho because it’s embarrassing to have to go and grab props. I sat on my little lonesome island of a mat in the back of the class while the music played and everyone mingled. Little did I know that this class would be the start of my passion for yoga.

You’re probably thinking that it must have been such a great class to start your love for the practice… If only it had been that nice.

Pranayama starts, the teacher is walking around the room, no introduction to class or what will be happening she shuts and locks the door behind her, she starts walking us through a guided meditation and I'm like alright I can do this, first in-studio class let’s get it. The instructor guides us to the ocean... You’re on a boat... In the middle of the ocean... No land in sight… PAUSE...

My heartbeat is kicking, in my head, I'm like... "ma’am, where is the shore? Do we have enough food to survive? Are there sharks out here? Who’s gonna feed my dog? How am I gonna get home?"

I’m activated, my nervous system is kicking into overdrive and my eyes shoot open, she cues everyone to close their eyes…

I make it off the boat and into the asana portion of the class. It’s gentle enough but it's my first in-studio class so I am of course upset that my posture doesn’t look like everyone else's. I move into warrior 2 and the instructor walks over and starts putting her hands on me to assist me into the right alignment. The nervous system did not enjoy that, this stranger is touching my body so...

obviously, I Am In Danger and I’m Dying.

I start trying to manifest this class to end. I can feel the panic attack coming, my hands are shaking, I want to cry because first off how embarrassing that she assisted me in front of everyone - how dumb did I look?

And second now I am having flashbacks because I am uncomfortable, I am panicking and my brain is jumping to find reasons to scare me. Savasana did not come soon enough and when we finally made it there I didn’t have enough tools to stop the complete nuclear meltdown that happened when I had my first moment of silence. I felt like there was no space to breathe or to even think.

My brain was going 50 miles an hour, this was possibly the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, I don’t understand why I can’t ever find a space where I am comfortable, I don’t understand why I can’t just do it, I don’t understand why I can’t just be normal. I don’t understand.

After a good cry in my car, and a conversation with my therapist I gave yoga several more tries. In-studio classes were never a fit for me. I was constantly brushing the edge of enjoying the class and then I would have an instructor touch me for an assist or I couldn't find a way out of my head. I made my way back to youtube yoga school and made a huge discovery.

I had never been in a classroom that made sure to provide a trauma-conscious space.

After coming across an instructor on youtube who did a trauma-informed series everything changed. Everything that I disliked about the practice immediately fell away. Knowing that I should have been given full control over what my body looked like in my studio classes, I should have been given an exit, I should have been given the space to explore my body and the trauma I’m housing in here, I was disappointed. I felt like I would never find a space where I was able to practice the type of yoga I knew that I needed. I was practicing when my schedule allowed and still wasn’t getting the full extent of the practice.

After some conversations with my therapist, months of home practice, and a month of pandemic quarantine I decided I was going to create the space that I couldn’t find. If I couldn’t find anywhere that offered me a place to heal my trauma I was going to make sure I could offer that space to other people. I moved forward with my yoga teacher certification and then started teaching

My goal as an instructor is to provide the space that I was always searching for...

A safe, healing, nurturing space where any and everyone feels comfortable to just be.

Blog Written by Katie Higgins, SYCC Yoga Teacher; Take a class with Katie Wednesdays @ 6 PM 'Gentle Flow' & 7:15 PM 'Vibe and Flow'

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