In honor of International Yoga Day, which takes place on June 21, Blush is teaming up with yoga pioneer, teacher, writer and influencer Stephanie Birch. Read on as Stephanie shares a touching story about her practice. Lire l’entrevue en français

 

Sometimes the biggest transformations come from the most unexpected ways through life experiences. If someone would’ve told me over handful of years ago that my life would be fulfilling as a soon-to-be-wife, mother, yoga teacher, writer and photographer I would not have believed them. I would’ve probably had a good belly laugh. It is funny to look back on your life, the certainty you once held by absolutes or familiars, or the ways we push our extremes in the unfamiliar. For me, I was absolutely sure I would never marry, nor would I be a mother. I never dreamed of writing my heart out and sharing my photo captures with the world. And that “yoga thing” was something I thought only hippie people did on communes.

To talk about life transformation in the unexpected, I’ll start with that “yoga thing” mentioned above. Let’s rewind 9 years, when I first moved back to my hometown of Sacramento, California. At the time, I was busying myself with being semi-newly single, fast sex and relationships, hanging out with friends, clanking glasses on the weekends, settling for an office job I hated, and focusing on superficial desires that I hoped would beam me out of the small town life as soon as possible. It took months of smooth-talking coos from a friend to woo me into trying a yoga class. The said wooing was a promise of a happy hour bier after class. I have never been a gym membership kind of gal. I have always loved playing outside and I was looking for workout, class, or an adult league that would complement my running routine. I have always found freedom in movement. There’s a humming or rhythm that takes over, a sensation of the push in the familiar paired with the simultaneous pull in the unfamiliar. I suppose, looking back, some may call this moving meditation. And I would agree with that call.

A lot went down in that first yoga class. I was served a big slice of humble pie. I never knew sweat could drip off my nose and plop from my fingertips while standing still in a yoga posture. I could not “keep up” with the class and had many internal thoughts of surrender and white flag moments, but I kept on throughout as best I could until collapsing into the final rest called, “Savasana.” It was there I shook into stillness wanting to vomit, laugh, and cry. And I wanted to come back for more.

That first wildly-humbling class was years ago. My life took an unexpected turn when I found out I was pregnant. My brush of certainty of not entering motherhood flew out the window. It wasn’t until my son was born that I truly began to understand the power of the practice. I was in a state where my life, literally, depended on it. It was a time of many where early my early motherhood role was juxtaposed with beautiful firsts in newness as well as deep-seeded pain and life struggles. I was faced with depression. Days filled with bottom-drop-out moments, as a mom and partner, that were spiraling in quiet-dark ways coaxing myself to walk out on life. It was then that I reached for a familiar and it was yoga. Sometimes reaching for something familiar, even unconsciously, can lead you to a path of healing. I think for many people, healing is like waking up. Some may call it awakening or consciousness. It sounds outer world, those words can feel so big or intangible. I don’t think it is so complicated or heady this waking up. It is simple, really. I don’t write simple to mean easy. Waking up can be incredibly difficult. It’s like I’ve caught on to a part of me and I cannot un-know those parts of me. But I can choose which rabbit holes feed certain those parts of me. What was once dark, was unconscious.

My yoga practice, in a big way, has taught me to continue to show up for myself. In all the ways and days and faces I make. To know myself, strengthen my body, stay close to my breath that economizes my center, love myself wholly, and simply be me. It is a moving meditation for me. Much like my times on the tennis court, running or taking myself into the unknown and into my body. Yoga, to me, can be anything. From street to studio or home to field. Traditionally, it is taught through breath work and postures. Evolutionary, it is simply a way. It is a means to connect your mind, body, and spirit.

Read our interview with Stephanie Birch