By Tina Colella

Robin Williams in the modern day remake of the Disney Classic “Peter Pan” forgot who he was. He grew up, had more and more responsibilities, more and more people telling him what to say, what to do and how to be until he no longer remembered who he was. Sound familiar?  Many of us get jobs, then possibly marry, develop new friendships, perhaps have children. And we live our days putting one foot in front of the other donning the mask we need to wear depending on who is in front of us at any given moment. Until,  one day, we look in the mirror and do not recognize the face staring back. Or worse…we remember and we have no clue how to get back to who we are. Our truest self. What brought us joy? What were we doing when we were most comfortable with ourselves? Why did we learn to hide those parts away from ourselves? From the world? How do we strip away years of layers to uncover our own skin? 

Beginning at a young age, There have been many times throughout my life I have been thrown into darkness.I would rise until the next time and then something would bring me crashing down again. 

And so life went on this way. 

Except each time I fell, I hit a little harder.  

And the pain was intense. 

But I had children and responsibilities so I didn’t have time to dwell on the pain and the loss. And I had to adjust. I adjusted by putting up walls, numbing myself through almost every imaginable way, and trying to be someone I was not. Life tried to veer me onto a different path than the one I eventually forgot I was supposed to be on. I honestly came to the point where I asked myself “Who are you and what the hell are you doing here?”. 

After yet another severe bout of depression and another series of loss I found yoga. I loved how it made me in tune with my body like I had never been before. And how it gave me the opportunity to breathe. As the mom of a teenage son, middle school age daughter and rambunctious twin toddlers, breathing wasn’t something I made time for. True, real, deep breaths. Yoga provided the space for me to breathe. 

Years later I had trained my body to do all kinds of challenging poses…half moon, crow, headstand. I could breathe. But, I still knew there was more to uncover. I had only scratched the surface. I had only removed the first layer or two. I still didn’t feel comfortable with who I was and how I was showing up in the world. Something inside of me was screaming to get out before it was too late. 

I wish I could tell you I had some miraculous epiphany of a moment where I suddenly realized I needed to go to Yoga Teacher Training. But, that moment doesn’t exist. All I know is I had a strong sense that I was floating away and if I didn’t do something to anchor myself I would be lost. Baron Baptiste and his method of yoga have always spoken to me. So it seemed natural to take a Yoga Teacher Training in Baptiste Yoga. I didn’t sign up with the intent to teach. Yoga teachers make little money and at the time I was making very good money after being a nurse for over 20 years. I took the training to help me rediscover who I was. I wanted to remove more layers. I had heard Teacher Training was “life changing”. I wanted my life changed.  So, I signed up for the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Anjali Power Yoga. 

Peter Pan didn’t believe in himself initially. It took Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, and the Lost Boys to help him find himself and believe again. For me, part of my tribe is my fellow Teachers in Training. Throughout the training we shared pieces of ourselves we would rather just hide and in return received nothing but love and acceptance. They have all taught me something about life. Even the quietest ones who sat back and mostly just listened. Our teachers helped us to open up, get real with what we wanted and gave us tools for showing up fully in life. And slowly the layers began to peel away and my true passion and purpose was revealed. I realized I am meant to help bring not only the physical gift of yoga to as many people as I can, but also to share with them all of the tools of yoga and help them realize they are never alone. You just need to show up and do the work. And everyone is perfectly imperfect. You…me…all of us. And that’s ok. 

I wish I had found yoga at an earlier age. It may never have changed the course of my life but may have helped me to deal with it all with more grace and love. Not just for those around me but for myself as well. I want to bring the gift of yoga to children and adults to help them navigate the inevitable challenges that we face throughout our lives. This is definitely still a journey for me. But, Yoga Teacher Training has helped me to navigate back onto MY true path. It has helped me to be clear and purposeful on the road to where I belong. 

“Second star to the right and straight on til morning."