On And Off My Mat
Think about what it means to wake up every day holding your breath; petrified, too scared to get out of bed because you do not know what is going to happen to you if you say or do something "wrong." Imagine what it means to lose your voice, constantly hoping to disappear- to become a shadow. You feel like a thin, invisible reflection of yourself.
This is who I once was. I was lost in the darkness of an abusive relationship, blinded by the fear of being myself because somebody convinced me I was horrible. I was drained and exhausted. I was constantly pretending that everything was ok, holding on to the idea of a picture perfect life in order not to disappoint my family or my friends. I depended on a future to save me, when what I really needed was to change my present reality. For a long time, I refused to admit that I was living in a nightmare. I denied my circumstances. For a long time, I thought I was not abused enough to complain until one day, one fight too late, I realized that there was no coming back anymore, that something needed to be changed or I would soon be dead. I survived the physical abuses, but a part of my soul died that day. The girl that everyone loved was gone.
It took me a long time to recover, find the strength to smile again, or simply the desire to get out of bed in the morning. I was carrying an endless sadness inside, and I could not live my life anymore. I left my family, my home and my country to escape the pain and memories.
When I arrived in the USA, I was a lost soul with a broken heart and I struggled in silence, too ashamed not only to talk about my past, but also to think about it. I pretended it never happened. I never mentioned it to people in order to forget. More than anything, I wanted to avoid judgment. I kept choosing partners who would hurt me, physically and mentally, because I did not think I deserved to be loved, and I could not forgive myself for that. I was miserable and scared. I was trying to convince myself that I was ok. I attended a dance academy and started to work as a personal trainer. One day, I ended up in a yoga vinyasa class and something changed.
I started to feel the need to go back to that class over and over again, and soon, the physical benefits turned into emotional relief. Through the movements of my body I started to establish a relationship with myself and I started to hear the voice of my soul. Eleonora the warrior allowed Eleonora the vulnerable to start talking. Soon the two started to dance together. I started a deep conversation with myself. Tears started to flow, and I allowed them to just fall. I started my journey of forgiveness. Yoga became my happy place.
My mat became my sanctuary and still is, My mat is my shelter, my point zero and my foundation. My body became the instrument that played the melody of my soul. My pain became my compassionate teacher, and I understood that if my practice is my sanctuary, then my body is my temple and my broken heart is the core of my strength. I understood that your physical practice has a lot to do with how you react when you fall, when you can not get into the pose you want, when everything hurts and when you have to deal with your limitations. Acceptance. Patients. Compassion. Breathing. Trying. Believing in yourself. These are the things that lead you into any asanas. These are the things that lead you trough anything in life.
Today I'm lucky enough to teach yoga for a living, to connect with a lot of students, to flow with them and to share my story with them.My mission is sharing with my students the knowledge and the courage they need to carry their practice out of the yoga studio and into their lives.
For them to let go of anything that is hurting them in their body and in their soul. The healing power of yoga taught me what it means to be loved, what it means to love and especially helped me realize that in your deepest darkness you can find your real light.
I' m no longer holding my breath. I enjoy every inhale and every exhale. Every single moment on and off my mat, because yoga helped me realize that violence is never justified, silence it's not the answer, and fear can only control you if you let it.
I am practicing today as if my heart has never been broken, rising above all the fears and insecurities. I want to share this light with all of those that are still living under the overbearing shadow of an abusive relationship.
It's in your heart that you hold all the answers to your questions you just have to find the courage to look right into it and not be scared of his beautiful light, not be scared to re-write your story.
By Eleonora Rachele Zampatti
Eleonora Rachele Zampatti is a yoga teacher, personal trainer and founder of the Ode to the Moon Project. She created OTM to use yoga, art and music raise awareness on the topic of domestic violence. She has been featured in many publications including Mantra Magazine and is now an regional leader for NY YOGA + LIFE magazine.
Pic source: lululemon.com.