Happy 2015 from the entire Yoga Medicine team! To kick off the New Year we are celebrating our January Share Your Story yogi of choice.
This month’s winner is Lara Swinarton from Tuscon, Arizona. Lara’s journey with yoga began seven years ago. Her husband’s returned from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At the urging of a friend, Lara took up yoga as a way to cope with her volatile husband. Yoga soon became the missing link that helped Lara re-connect to herself. The hope she found through her practice allowed her to leave her unhealthy marriage. Since then, she has become a full-time yoga teacher and started her own company, Southwest Adventure Yoga. Lara’s company is committed to helping others and offers donation classes in which all proceeds go to the local domestic violence shelter in Tuscon. There are so many great things to say about this ambitious yogini. She is a true role model for her yoga community, and a true embassador of yoga for mental health.
Check out Lara’s full story below.
Remember to Share Your Story with us yogis!
Yoga for Mental Health
Yoga is something that continues to evolve and be a safety net in my life. It started about 7 years ago. My then-husband had become incredibly volatile and abusive upon his return from serving in Iraq. His PTSD and the actions that surrounded it found me chain-smoking, overweight, and completely broken. I didn’t recognize myself at all anymore. Essentially, I was a shell of the vibrant driven person I had been. At the suggestion of a friend, I tried yoga. I was so emotionally and physically drained and weak. 15 minutes was about all I could do, but I did it.
Soon, 15 minutes turned to 20, then 30 … At the time, I couldn’t afford classes so I bought a book and would write the poses on paper and do them on my lunch break at work. I found a new hope in my heart that I could not explain! I began informally wanting to “teach” everyone I knew this amazing thing that had come to me. My friends and I started doing yoga in the park. I was running “stockroom yoga” at the retail store I worked at. Yoga helped me get the strength and rediscovery of self that I needed inside of myself to quit smoking, quit the job I no longer loved, and leave my very broken unhealthy marriage.
I enrolled in a teacher certification program, and between finding a better life for my kids and myself took a job at a rock gym that had a yoga studio and was full time in my certification program. I was literally without a day off for a year and a half but by this time, my practice had blossomed, I was smoke free, 40 lbs lighter, had more energy and a renewed hope and healing I had not known for years.
Moving on & Giving Back
I now teach full time and own my own outdoor company called Southwest Adventure Yoga where I take people into the wild places of our deserts and mountains to do yoga with the hopes of lighting a spark for others in regards to finding a love of yoga, the outdoors, the world we live in and our own lovely bodies and minds. I also teach yoga for PTSD and anxiety in hopes that people who were as desperate as I was can find the same hope through breath, clarity of mind and movement that yoga gave to me, and once a month my business offers a donation class where all proceeds go to the local domestic violence shelter here in Tucson to give back what they gave to me when I found myself on their doorstep 3 years ago.
I’m not going to say my life is perfect or free from worry, or that everything is always easy- it’s not, I still struggle with healing, relationships, etc, but now I have tools to deal with them…breath, my practice, my yoga community, a strong flexible body and a mind that finds quiet and reacts less. I am blessed to know this practice and celebrate sharing it with as many people as possible. Thank YOU for letting me share my yoga story.