When I quit my full-time job last year, a great job with benefits, paid time-off and a secure position I excelled at, only a few people understood why I had to leave. I had spent the last two years encouraging others to live their dreams, to not hold back, to envision their brightest future and go for it. And I knew I deserved that chance too.
You see, I chose the path to becoming a yoga teacher years ago. I made this decision way before I was ever able to attend my first training. I felt something inside of me that knew this was the path for me.
Yoga is in everything I do.
Yoga is in everything I create.
Yoga is a part of me.
When I was first introduced to the practice of yoga, I had no idea that over 10 years later I would be teaching aspects of the practice full-time. I would never have guessed that this practice would lead me down a path of change and challenge, self-discovery and bravery.
The first yoga classes I attended were taught in the gym wrestling room of the college I attended. These classes were taught by a fantastic English Professor who had a beautiful way of explaining the postures, the movement between the poses, and the breath. She would end every class with “Live like the Lotus, at home in the muddy water.” This always resonated with me, but it wasn’t until years later that I actually felt like I understood and felt the power of those words.
Yoga has given me the power, courage, stamina, flexibility and strength I posses today. Yoga has allowed me to see that all of these beautiful traits existed within me already, and all I had to do was make my way through the murk, feed them with sunlight and watch them bloom.
I love how my body, mind and spirit have opened up through the practice of yoga. I spent so many years hiding, being scared, ashamed I wasn’t brave, too nervous and introverted to speak my mind, to take a leap and reach for what I want most out of my life. When I was in middle and high school I was teased and bullied horribly, some days it was so bad I experienced deep anxiety about going to school, about my body and who I was. When I entered high school, I went from a small private school with four girls in my grade to a huge public school. For so long it seemed like I didn't have any friends. I would spend my lunch hour in the most remote girl’s bathroom hiding in the stall eating my sandwich watching the minutes tick by. That girl is not the woman I am today. Even though I still get anxious in social situations where I don’t know anyone, I now have more courage, determination and drive to open up, to show a bit of vulnerability and when in doubt, allow my smile to shine from within even when I’m not sure what to say. My image of myself has changed and evolved too, I can now say with certainty that I have more moments where I love who I am and what I look like than not.
I've had a serious yoga and meditation practice for the last six years and have spent the last four years learning the Ashtanga system of yoga, spending time at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India. It was actually after my trip to India I made a pact with myself that in that next year I would make a huge change and follow my own dreams. And I did. I am living them right now.
Everyday I wake up, I move a little, I meditate and I go to work. My work is to teach others to relax, to smile more, to laugh, to bend and stretch and be stronger than they thought possible, and I do it with the deepest desire to bring happiness and inspiration to as many people as I can. My dream is to teach to thousands, millions and to share my love and passion for the practice of Yoga and how it can change anyone’s life.
My purpose in this life is to inspire, to share, to listen, and to help light people up! You don’t have to spend your life feeling afraid, vulnerability gives you more power than you could ever imagine and more strength than you realize. My yoga practice has given it to me and I have seen it happen for so many others!
Clarissa Thompson is a yoga teacher and mobility coach from the Quad Cities who loves to share how the practice of yoga and self-care can help you life your best life! Follow along at @clarissa_mae_