sketch & stretch | September 13th, 7pm to 9pm | Café Maillot

Moving forward

 

 

As a child, movement was the catalyst for my self expression. I started dance classes when I was 2 and shortly moved on to gymnastics, then figure skating which I continued for the rest of my childhood/early teens. When I wasn't skating, I was doing interpretive acrobatic dances in our living room to cirque du Soleil soundtracks. Something about expressing myself through movement was just so pure and natural to me. But as my body started changing and maturing, it's as if I became frozen inside my own shell. Body Dysmorphia made a cozy home inside my mind and suddenly, I started to resent my body. I was resentful when I couldn't land my jumps while skating, and of the injuries I kept getting that affected my ability to perform. I eventually quit skating. I couldn't take the silent pressure I was putting on myself. But the pressure stuck around and as a result, I totally lost the comfort I felt through movement. Instead, I went through a period of physical self-neglect and became a stranger to myself. I stored all of my repressed emotions deep inside the layers of my being. I became really good at functioning outside of myself, disconnected from my physical needs. My movements became robotic, my shoulders slowly began dropping and eventually my heart space hardened, isolated through a layer of fear. In parallel, my lack of physical connection lead me to expressing myself through music and visual art. This became my comfort, my escape.

When I moved out on my own to study graphic design, I had this urge to move my body, but I wasn’t sure how to anymore. I had done yoga as part of my off-ice training when I was skating so I was somewhat familiar with it. So, I started exploring gentle yoga alone in my room. I quickly realized that my newfound yoga practice fueled me creatively in the most magical way. It helped me channel all kinds of ideas and illustrations. I still can’t fully explain what happens, all I know is that yoga and self-expression go hand-in-hand. Yoga helped my mind tremendously, and uncovered this deep purpose for creating. But I still carried the same ‘’push yourself’’ mindset for my Asana (physical) practice, so naturally, the self-neglect towards my body continued. I kept pushing myself into shapes that didn't serve me and being angry at myself for not being able to "keep up" because I kept getting injured. I slowly began to leave my pure love of movement behind again. I came to the irrational conclusion that the only way to prove myself to the world was to pour all of my energy into my artwork. If I couldn't feel at home inside my own body, at least I could draw pretty things right? I was full-heartedly committed to creating which is amazing, but the one-dimensionality of it lead me to become addicted to working on my craft and overworking myself.

This continued for a few years, though I'm extremely grateful for this time because I got to build a bond with my mind and bridge the gap between my physical world and my inner worlds. Pouring my emotions into creating was and still is, extremely therapeutic for me. I realized that I could feel, see and hear things beyond my physical reality and it naturally came out of me through various mediums. I also realized that others resonated with my self-expression as well. I connected to such a supportive, healing community simply through sharing my creations. But the disconnection from my body was still very present and eventually it got so bad that it started affecting my creative expression.

I developed chronic, generalized physical pain. The exact cause is still unknown but some days my right hand (my drawing hand) was in so much pain I couldn’t use it anymore. Other days, the pain became so intense that it affected my entire body. I was unable to sit up without my arms shaking uncontrollably, and my jaw would seize up, causing me to be unable to leave my bed and function properly in my day-to-day tasks. Basically, my nervous system was totally freaking out. But amidst of all the body disconnection I was going through, my yoga practice was still very consistent. Spiritually, it became my safe space, my healer. Suddenly, I had this strong call to share this practice with others. I wanted to take my teacher training for years but didn’t feel physically ‘’strong enough’’. That said, a series of magical moments lead me to sign up for a summer intensive program and I got my 200hr certification in Hatha yoga. By that time, I had just quit my job at an advertising/design agency in order to pursue my art practice full time and to find a more aligned path in life. My body was very clearly screaming at me to make some changes so here I was, ready to follow a path that made my heart feel full. I didn’t really have a ‘’set’’ plan (I still don’t, more on this later!)  but yoga just naturally became a part of my journey.

Finding Home again

Going through training was really challenging in the best way possible. I finally took the time to slow down my lifestyle for the first time in years. I drastically cut down my working hours and I finally allowed myself to have days off. I learned what it means to truly listen to my body and speak it’s language. I got to reconnect to movement in a healthy way. I could finally feel in my body, how my breath can guide me through life and reconnect me to my true nature. I got to know myself more deeply from an energetic perspective and I started to reconnect to a healing self-expression that not only fueled my mind, but also nurtured my physical body.

I still experience chronic pain but I’m now able to manage it through a series of energetic rituals and a healthy Asana practice. I learned that by living only from the mind, we ignore a vital part of healing. I learned that our emotions hide inside the layers of our muscles, they’re engraved in our bones, entangled in our nervous system. All of our fears, ideas and desires hold a physical space within us. I learned that it’s possible to heal through the movement of energy with the intention of nurturing ourselves. And finally, I’m feeling at home within my physical self for the first time in my life. I’m connected to my inner child and allowing her to move through life and explore as she pleases. I’m choosing to share my journey with you so you’re aware of where I’m coming from and what this practice means to me as I continue to write about various subjects surrounding energy, movement and creativity in all its forms. Everything I’m going to write about is related to things that I have a personal relationship with. I believe in speaking from my story, from my heart.

My practice is non-linear, it’s fluid, soft, deeply spiritual and directly related to my art practice as well. I never fit inside a mold, neither does my yoga and that’s a beautiful thing! Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am so excited.