We all come to yoga for different reasons -- sometimes we're wanting to try something new; sometimes we're looking to satisfy a curiosity; sometimes we come for the physical benefits; sometimes we come to yoga grudgingly at the insistence of a friend; sometimes we come for healing; and sometimes we come to yoga for one thing and end up with something else entirely.
I rarely host guest posts on this blog, but I make exceptions for people who move, inspire, and delight me. The person I'd like to introduce you to today has done all of those things. Her name is Cyndi Roberts. Her message is simple but powerful: "Your true nature is love and greatness. Settle for nothing less." Her story of what brought her to yoga is one that's worth sharing, as it reminds us that yoga is often the path to something deeper.
Cyndi is not only a yoga practitioner and yoga teacher-in-training, but she's a talented artist. She is graciously offering up one of her stylish and functional yoga mat bags -- a $90 value -- for free for one lucky reader. At the end of the post I'll give you details on how you can enter to win. But first -- here's your dose of inspiration for the day:
On my mat in twisting crescent lunge, in a room over 90 degrees, my heart racing, my breath frantic, sweat pouring in my eyes and soaking my mat, I heard the words, “let your heart shine and don’t forget to breathe.” I began to cry as these words rang so true in my head. Had I forgotten to breathe? Forgotten to let my heart shine? Where had I been for the past 12 years?
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I was ready to start right then, no excuses, thinking “here I am and I am breathing.” I wanted to be healthy, and I knew so deeply in that moment that this was my path to heal not only my body but my mind, heart and soul. I found yoga and most importantly an inspiring and supportive teacher, Marcia Vallier; I was home. As months passed, I pushed myself to get back on my mat daily. So many things started to come up for me that had been suppressed. I dove back into meditation. I began to honor my body by eating nourishing foods. I worked harder at the gym. I walked longer. I went deeper.
More months passed. More strength came. More weight came off. More layers were being shed to reveal my true self. My teacher continued to inspire me. I started to wonder what else was out there; I started reading and soaking up everything I could find with an open mind. One day, I had the profound realization that I was on a spiritual journey. Joe Keyes said, “Religion is for people who believe they are going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there.” I could relate so deeply to these words.
I worked through the resistance, the dogma, and the fear of finding God not within an organized religion, but within myself. My mat became a sacred place where I felt fully supported, where the thoughts about the past dissolved, and worries and anxieties about the future didn’t matter. I was just in that moment, in that pose, fully present, letting my heart shine and finally remembering to breathe. I began taking what I was learning on my mat and applying it to other areas of my life. Yoga and meditation became the cornerstones of my spiritual practice. I was so deeply grateful to them and wanted to learn everything I could and pass it on. I wanted to teach; I wanted to share.
Through this process, my creativity started to re-emerge; it had been buried deep within. I started to create. I picked up my camera again, inspired by the beautiful world around me that I felt I had never truly seen or experienced. I started to paint, to sew and to create mixed media pieces. I used whatever I found around to make art that spoke to me and served as a constant reminder to me that I’m on the right path, moving in the right direction.
I started to allow the talent within to shine outward. I knew very deeply that I wanted to inspire hope in others to remind them to breathe, to let their hearts shine. I was awake, aware, back to optimal health, and had developed such compassion for others and the earth. My passion for creating art and practicing yoga and meditation comes from a place of peace and love.
I hope to share my story and reach others trapped in such a place of desperation. When I started this journey over a year ago, I was 75 pounds overweight, pre-diabetic, on the verge of liver failure from over-medication, hopelessly addicted to smoking, and desperate to escape from the hell I had created in my mind. I want everyone to know that there is hope; there is a way to live a healthy, happy life. Each day is a chance for a new beginning. The power is within you to make the changes, put in the hard work, time and determination. This is your world; you have the power to shape it however you want. If you are unhappy, if you are suffering, today is the time to change; the time to grow, and in the words of my teacher, to “let you heart shine, and don’t forget to breathe.”
More About Cyndi
I am currently in training to become a yoga instructor at West Hartford Yoga, journeying deeper and mastering the tools to share the gift of yoga and meditation with others. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of my art are going to pay for my teacher training. I am inspired by nature, hope and positivity. I enjoy photography, creating handcrafted, one of a kind extra large yoga mat bags, custom tapestries, inspirational desktop art, oil paintings and other mixed media pieces. I use recycled and eco-friendly materials as often as I can.
Win One of Cyndi's One-of-a-Kind Creations
Here are the details on the bag that one lucky reader will receive: It's a handcrafted extra large yoga mat bag that measures 30" long x 12" tall, and is an original design made to fit your mat and props. It's spacious enough to fit a long yoga mat, mat towel, large Mexican blanket, block, strap, and personal towel.
Other features of the extra large yoga mat bag include:
- Conveniently folds to a compact size for easy storage during class
- 3 buttons make it quick and easy to fill and go
- Outside pocket with button closure
- Inside pocket with velcro closure is big enough to fit your keys and cell phone
- Straps are sturdy and reinforced so they won't dig into your shoulder
- Fabrics are machine washable (do not bleach; do not put in dryer)
To enter to win the mat bag, simply comment below with the answer to this question: What brought you to yoga? Be sure to comment by Tuesday, March 22, as I'll pick a winner on Wednesday, March 23rd. Remember to include your email address in the appropriate comment field so I can contact you if you've won.
Here's to the love and greatness inside of you!