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Aubrey Hackman – “Yoga was my therapy.”

Aubrey Hackman is one of the original founders of the Telluride Yoga Festival, one of the first in the United States. She considers herself a very simple yoga teacher who believes there is no pre-requisite for the practice. Aubrey began her practice at age 17 as a way to begin healing the relationship with her Mom and herself. Her message to all yogis is to customize the practice to fit your personal needs.
by Jack GreeneFebruary 10, 2016

My first yoga experience was hilarious.

I was a total gym-rat.

Mom and I were trying to rebuild our relationship that had fallen apart during my adolescent years. She asked me to go to a yoga class at our gym. It was taught by this older Indian woman.

The teacher basically screamed at me the entire time.

I kept trying to make this therapeutic Iyengar class into a workout session. I couldn’t understand her most of the class so I was pretty unavailable to listen.

My Mom and I still laugh about it today.

My childhood was very interesting, with lots of ups and downs. I grew up in Bloomington in central Illinois and spent about 2 hours at the gym almost every day. Lifting weights at the gym all the time, I was already familiar with the benefits of physical movement for mental health.

For me, yoga was my therapy.

It was the hardest thing I had ever tried to do and harder than any workout or cardio routine.

I stuck with it throughout college and by my junior year I was doing it everyday. I realized after about 6 months of daily practice that I wasn’t partying with my friends anymore.

I wasn’t indulging in certain activities that I had been doing before. It wasn’t intentional. It just all happened naturally. Since I wanted to get up and go to yoga, certain things no longer fit into my life.

I realized that the circle of people I surrounded myself in my life also changed. I definitely started associating with kinder, down to earth, genuine people.

I don’t remember ever being concerned with that before.

It was organic, a natural shift. I didn’t intend for my life to change. It was all very accidental.

As soon as I realized that shift occurred I immediately got certified to teach. I was 21 and I’ve been teaching full time ever since.

It was a little overwhelming how much my life had changed in a little over a year from this daily practice.

I looked different. Everything was different about me.

I don’t talk about the Aubrey before yoga very often. The Aubrey before yoga definitely had a problem with alcohol and drugs. Not necessarily addicted but I would say I definitely abused.

I did that on a pretty regular basis.

At 17 years old I was kicked out of high school for a drug test that I failed.

At that point in my life was when my Mom and I started going to yoga together occasionally because our relationship had diminished so greatly.

I think a lot of that was because I was turning to drugs and alcohol at such a young age. I was using them to deal with an emotional issue that I had grown up with.

Now my Mom and I have a really good relationship.

Yoga played a huge role in my healing.

I was able to overcome my own self in order to heal, let go, to forgive myself, and others. I forgave everyone around me including my Mom.

I let that old shit go because every moment is another chance to turn it all around.

There is no reason to let the past determine the present if you’re really doing the work. I learned how to breathe and let go of emotional stress in my body.

It changed me forever. It still is changing me to this day.

Is there is a shadow self or darker side to me? Hahaha..absolutely! I do feel the need at times to recoil back into my personal space. I could be sitting back on the couch and watching a marathon of Game of Thrones or whatever.

My shadow self today is probably talking myself out of getting out of bed in the morning to go to yoga or putting off things I know I need to do…procrastination!

But really I think that for me my shadow self has changed from a somewhat abusive state to more of a self-indulgent state.

It’s more like, “I’m going to just chill in my apartment for the whole day and take rest.”

pooltimeunedited

But that’s really not even my darker side.

I think I live in my darker side all the time.

I don’t think that it necessarily hibernates. I’m not one to feign away from being totally honest or swearing or making inappropriate jokes.

My darker side is very much on the surface and as present as my lighter side is.

I don’t think that it hides as much as it used to.

I definitely used to hide my drug abuse and alcohol abuse. I would pretend that those things it didn’t exist.

Now I’m pretty much open about who I am and what I participate in.

I don’t feel that I have too many secrets anymore or that I need to hide anything.

I think that when you really own your behavior and accept who you are and all the gifts you have, whatever anyone else would deem as a shortcoming is simply their own judgment.

It’s just their perception.

All of it creates the whole that you are. I don’t trust people who are always all rainbows, smiles, and unicorns.

Life is hard sometimes and I feel people connect with me because I connect with that. I acknowledge that. I don’t try to pretend it’s not there.

We just don’t need to dwell in that place.

How do I find my way back to my center? Breath! Breath brings me back to my center absolutely.

In my weakest moments, if I’m being totally honest, I probably turn to anger.

I thank God I don’t really suffer with jealousy or depression too much but I probably have what some people would recognize as an addiction to anger.

If someone pulls out in front of me on the highway, I’m probably going to go, “What the fuck!” I would qualify that as anger.

I would like to think that I’m getting better and softening that edge.

Sometimes I just say, “that’s okay.”

When I’m under stress or pressure I definitely turn to my breathing and try to deepen my breath and to release my diaphragm and just root down.

I heard recently that all emotional responses are no longer than two minutes long.

So every emotion can only be experienced for two minutes. It passes unless we choose to hold on to it.

But that raw unadulterated response really only lasts two minutes. If that response is grief, anger, happiness, or ecstatic joy, we just get that for about a two minute blip and then it’s just a memory.

But that raw moment really only lasts two minutes. It’s all temporary.

To be continued…

1st part of the Aubrey Hackman interview series with Jack Greene in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA.  –The Yoga Blog

aubreysundialpose

Find Aubrey here: Web . Facebook . Instagram

Photos courtesy of Aubrey Hackman

  • http://www.nyhrc.com Jonas Franks

    What a wonderful way to express and share the impact of Yoga. It is a way of life, it transcends beyond the mere excising of muscles and flexibility. Indeed, the heart of Yoga lies in the concentration on the inhaling and exhaling.Breathing forms one of the 5 principles of Yoga called Pranayama. It increases the oxygen flow to the blood stream helping body function much better.

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