When I was 16 years old, I developed an eating disorder.
I was a junior in high school, though my symptoms started percolating in my freshmen year. I was a high-achieving, goal-oriented, classic Type-A student-athlete. On the outside, it seemed like I had everything going for me, and I did. But on the inside, I was starting to obsess about achievement and being “good at everything,” which manifested as being good at starving myself. I had always been a bright girl — both of mind and of spirit — but then, my inner light started to dim as I spiraled deeper into my disease. For my entire junior year, I completely lost myself as I struggled with an eating disorder that seriously threatened my health, harmed my family and took me down a path of suffering and destruction that unfortunately afflicts so many young girls and increasingly, young boys.
I continued waging war on about my outer body for years even after I was out of treatment, when what I really needed was to find peace in my inner body. The war lasted six years. I wanted an end to the destruction. I wanted to stop caring about calories, cardio and most of all, control. I wanted to surrender. I wanted to feel self-love. I wanted to feel like I was enough. I wanted to feel relief from all the pressures of perfection I had placed on myself. I wanted to soften, to not be so hard on myself anymore. I wanted harmony. I wanted peace. I wanted to let the demons go — but I didn’t know how.
Yoga taught me how.
Yoga helped me sign a peace treaty with myself.
Yoga offered me a covenant of peace.
Yoga ended the war and has kept the enemy at bay for ten years.
In fact, yoga has given me the power to actually feel gratitude towards my enemy for coming into my life to teach me something about myself.
I renew this promise of peace every time I step on my mat.
Now, as a high school teacher, I am passionate about bringing yoga to my students with the hopes that they too, can cultivate a more loving and peaceful relationship with themselves. At a time when self-criticism and lack of confidence skyrocket, yoga can teach students to stay grounded in the goodness and uniqueness of their own hearts and can give them the power and awareness to choose peace, loving-kindness and compassion. I am one hundred percent certain that I would not have gone down that path of destruction if I had been exposed to yoga as a young girl. Yoga would have taught me that I was good enough.
After nine years in education, I have learned that, among the myriad lessons students learn in school, perhaps the most important of all is self-care. We need to teach our kids how to take care of themselves, which starts with giving them the tools they need to tune out the noise of our hyper-connected, hyper-scheduled, hyper-fast, hyper-everything world and tune in to their need for balance, wholeness and ease. Yoga and meditation can be those tools. Through the practice of yoga and meditation — even just one class a week — students can become better equipped to handle all of life’s challenges, both in and out of the classroom. Yoga encourages you to come as you are with the intention of moving into a more harmonious, healthy and happy relationship with yourself. And that, I think, is the greatest lesson you can learn.
Lauren discovered yoga in early 2007 after graduating from college. As a former athlete and gym enthusiast, she found herself seeking a more balanced and holistic approach to exercise and overall wellness. After hearing about the myriad health benefits of yoga, she signed up for a beginner class at the Red Bank YMCA. Despite feeling inflexible, gangly and incredibly awkward, Lauren was intrigued by the practice of yoga. She started taking classes at Dancing Foot Yoga in Red Bank and fell in love with Anusara yoga, a style of hatha yoga known for its universal principles of alignment and emphasis on opening to grace both on and off the mat. After six years of study and practice, Lauren completed a 200-hour teacher training with Emily Huresky and Dina Crosta in 2013. She now teaches alignment-based vinyasa classes in the Anusara tradition. Lauren is also an English and Spanish teacher at Trinity Hall, an all-girls independent school in Tinton Falls, NJ, where she finds joy and inspiration on a daily basis.[/box]
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