I realized as I woke up in Maui this morning that the last time I was here was 10 years ago almost to the day. This time I came to teach a series of workshops and enjoy Thanksgiving with a loved one. Last time I was here with my now ex-husband—getting engaged. I was 26 years old. And as I look back through my older and wiser lens, I was a very confused and pained girl living with a lot of suffering inside.
See alsoThe Path to Happiness
Alexandria Crow Flashes Back to Her Life Before Yoga
Back then I had a different outlook on almost everything. I wanted to be married with a big ring. I wanted an expensive car, fancy clothes, a nice house. I would only dine in the trendiest restaurants and stay at the poshest of hotels. I thought life was about how you looked and how much you acquired. I believed if I could have all the right material goods or look a certain way, I would be happy.
But I wasn’t happy. I was miserable.
I lived with chronic anxiety and panic attacks. I was mean to myself and to others. I was incredibly judgmental and shallow. I hated my job, lived for Friday at 6 P.M., and dreaded Monday morning. I hated the way I looked, I hated how my body felt. I tied myself to a relationship that was not healthy for myself or for my significant other.
I knew deep down that something wasn’t right, but I had absolutely no idea how to make things better.
How Yoga Teacher Training Changed My Life
In one of those “I have no idea why I chose that” moments, I decided to take a yoga teacher training. That one choice (and then the hundreds of choices to live as a yogi that followed) changed my life.
I knew I must let go of all that I thought to become all that I am.
The decision to take the training and the choices that followed were hard and scary. Who would I be without all of those things I thought I needed? What would my life look like? I surrendered, not without a fight, but eventually I surrendered to what I must do. I knew I must let go of all that I thought to become all that I am.
Joseph Campbell has a quote I love “You will learn to continue to die.” That’s what I chose to do and what I continue to do. I was practicing what us yogis call tapas, choosing to do what is hard work because the outcome on the other side will be one of less suffering.
I left my career and my relationship for starters, and there were many more choices I made that were terrifying at the time. But each decision I made with a little bit more clarity. I was stripping off the patterns that were causing me suffering and becoming more and more content with who I am. I was dying over and over and being reborn as a softer, kinder, gentler, more at ease version of myself.
The Work Is Never Done
As I walked along the beach this morning I thought of how far I’ve come. I thought of how different I am 10 years later. I teach yoga full-time around the world—and absolutely love it. I don’t think of it as a job. It feels like a purpose. I have amazing friends who support me. I love people. I am no longer plagued by anxiety, body issues or unhealthy relationships. I live in a very nice home and still love nice clothes but I no longer think they are responsible for my happiness.
I am not done transforming. I get up every single day and go to work on myself to release myself from more patterns that cause suffering. Even though the work continues, today, I am clear, present, and content.
I am grateful for the 26-year-old Alex. I do not look back at her with sadness or pity or shame. I look back at her with complete gratitude. She has taught me a lot. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn't be able to connect with and help all the people I meet who are suffering like she was.