July 5, 2022

E352: How YOGA TRANSFORMED my life | Mental Health Podcast

In this episode, I wanted to talk about yoga in this healing journey because I don't think I've done a good job to this point in doing so, and just kind of talk about the experience that I've had.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e352-how-yoga-transformed-my-life-mental-health-podcast/#show-notes

In this episode, I wanted to talk about yoga in this healing journey because I don't think I've done a good job to this point in doing so, and just kind of talk about the experience that I've had.

I will lay this out to give you an understanding of what I did that changed my life forever.

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Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation. Hope that you're doing well. Coming to you again, live from the living room floor, just kind of blast out a couple episodes here with you today. Anyway. I was just finishing up a yoga session on YouTube, shout out to my homie cold chance. If you're on YouTube, check out cold chance yoga also while you're on there, check out Think Unbroken Podcast, cuz that's where I spend a bunch of time.

I wanted to talk about yoga in this healing journey cuz I don't think I've really done a good job to this point in doing so, and just kind of talk about the experience that I've had. When I look at the journey of healing in conjunction with yoga, it is a parallel; it's a parallel as strong as any personal development, any therapy session, any book I've read, if not a greater experience, if not a greater kind of healing modality than the other ones, perhaps even combined. I'm gonna give you kind of a timeline here and explain to you a couple of different things cause whether you do yoga or even thinking about doing yoga or you hate it. I just wanna lay this out to give you an understanding about what I did that really, really changed my life forever.

So, the other day on my phone, I got one of those like time hop messages that shows you really, really old photo of you. And so, this really, really old photo of me is from eight years ago after I had completed my very first 30 day, Bikram hot yoga challenge, so, it's eight years ago. And it made me think about something, the journey to that moment. And so, if I rewind and I go back a little bit, a couple of years, I had ordered some DVDs from this wrestler, I've mentioned this on the show before, Diamond Dallas page had this company called yoga for regular guys. And there was this video that went crazy viral on YouTube. And this was like before viral was even a thing, right? This video just started pop, everywhere. And it was this guy named Arthur, who was a paratrooper who in a training mission, parachute had a failure of deploy and he hit the ground and he just massive amounts of surgeries broken back, broke both his legs ended up, you know, fast forward a few years later, can't walk without canes, can't walk without canes, he's immobile, he's 50 pounds, if not more overweight. The dude looks like he hasn't shaved in five years like he's in it, right? He's in that darkness. Right. Especially if you are not healthy physically, like it's really easy to get in that darkness. And that actually happened to me, like being as obese as I was, and I'm not gonna fucking sugar coat it, I was very fat like I was 350 pounds, like I was massively overweight. And I saw this video of Arthur and it starts where he had sent Dallas a message and he was like, hey man, I need your help, blah, blah, blah and Dallas is like, yeah, I'm in, I'll help you. If you, do it, I will help you. And that's honestly like no bullshit, that's how I think about Think Unbroken and coaching and the people who reach out to me, I'm like, if you're gonna do it, I will help you if you're not gonna do it, I'm not very simple. I mean, I've historically I've fired clients like I have, because just there was no execution and you have to be game for this, that's all I'm saying.

And so, I was game for it. I saw what Arthur did and I ordered the DVDs. So, we're gonna go back, I mean, these weren't even Blu-ray yet we were talking about DVD Blu-ray might have just started being a thing. And so, these DVDs, this little box set, shows up in this UPS envelope, it's kind of like mashed and busted and whatever and I was like, ah, all right, let's put one in and I put one in and I had a little crappy yoga map that I'd gotten at like Kmart or something when Kmart was still a thing. And I'm in my living room, my little brother lived with me at the time while we lived together, I should say. And he was at work cuz I was so freaking embarrassed to do this and my girlfriend at the time she was at work, I was running my photography business and so I was home. I put this DVD in and I start doing it, and this is actually probably nine years ago, now that I think about it a little bit more, it might be 10, nine, somewhere on the cusp of that.

And so, I started doing this yoga and I'm freaking exhaust. I can't stand on one foot, I certainly can't touch my toes, I cannot get into any of the warrior poses. I mean, by halfway through and I think this was a 30 minute, I think the first one was 30 minutes like no bullshit guys I was exhausted, 15 minutes in just exhausted. And I probably had smoked a cigarette before full transparency, cuz that's what I did then. And so, I picked myself up off the ground and I'm just like, oh my God like it, to me, it felt so insurmountable. I was like, why am I bothering? Like, why am I even putting myself through the hell of this? Nobody cares, nobody likes me anyway, what's the point? And that was the fixed mindset thinking because as you know, in the way that I believe and think about the world now, like I don't care what people think about me. I do things for myself and that's always the challenge. Right? How can you do things for you? That's the most important thing.

And so, the next day again, everybody's gone. It's just me in the apartment, pull off the mat, put the DVD in and I go for it. And I get basically to the same place I was the day before, cuz this workout had an integration of like a Vinyasa pushup, which if you don't know what that is, basically, I'll put it like this, you're in a plank position, you do a shoulder rotation down to the ground, keep your chest off the ground, you do a shoulder rotation back. Right? So, it's kind of like a dive sound effects, and so you do this dive, you come back up and it was like a set of 10. And I think I did five, I might've even done five, like no bullshit, I might've done fucking four. And I just felt defeated, I felt so defeated, and I was like, nope. All right. Not gonna quit just tomorrow, but I did not do day three. I won't, I just didn't. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. You know, what's really funny is there's like a post that I've seen go around the internet over the years, it says, you know, laughing at a fat person at the gym is like laughing at something, trying to make meaning of not to judge people who are trying to better their life. And I was just judging myself so hard, so incredibly hard, I was beating myself up through the whole process and I was just like, what is the point of this? This is stupid, this isn't helping me. And that night as I was lying in bed, I was just thinking like, man, I just, I always just quit, I always just give up on myself and I was like, I'm not gonna give up myself, keep going, just figure it out, man. Just go. And the next day I just, I did it again. Well, that just became the kind of habit of it. And at that point, I don't even think a week into it, I had told my girlfriend what I was doing, I was just doing it. And then she saw like the DVDs on my work desk and she asked me about 'em and I was like, guys, I cannot tell you how fucking embarrassed I was, like that to me was this really defeating moment because it was like, and you have to remember, this was fucking 10 years ago in Indiana and dudes did not do yoga and they definitely didn't do it in Indiana, but I was too ashamed to go into the gym. There was a 0% chance I was walking into the gym, not gonna happen, literally not gonna happen. And that's part of the problem. Right? I know that shame and that guilt and that embarrassment that people carry with them.

And so, I just kept doing yoga, doing yoga, doing yoga. I probably dropped like 25 pounds doing DDP yoga which again, at that point was actually called yoga for regular guys. YRG and then I pivoted and a new hot yoga studio had opened up. And so, I went and I joined this hot yoga studio. I'm trying to find the actual, I screenshot the date that I joined and I cannot find it now cuz I was gonna tell you the actual date, but it's freaking buried in here. So, I joined hot yoga. I walk in and I've kind of, you know, touched on this story once before, I walk in and I am freaking terrified. I'm sitting outside of my car and as I'm sitting outside of my car, I'm just thinking to myself, like, why am I doing this? Why am I about to walk in this room? And just feeling like so much shame and guilt about it and being like, I don't wanna do that like, this is not for me, this is for everybody else. And in that I was like, okay, well, what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna watch the people go in at first, right? And I’m at that point, I'm trying to find a reason to not go into the studio. And so, I'm trying to find a reason to not go in and I'm watching all these fit people go in and every single person that goes in is me trying to convince myself that it's okay that I don't go in. And then as I sat there, I was thinking about Arthur, I was thinking about this guy and I was like, dude, to not go in here, like this is nonsense, how dare you not follow through on your promise to yourself again? Again, how are you gonna, again, not follow through. You are the king of this. It's shameful, it's guilt. And like guys, no bullshit, and you've heard me say this before. I've come to realize that sometimes the way that I need to talk to myself is not the way that other people need to talk to themselves. And so, with full transparency in that, I would caution you to recognize that, maybe, what I'm about to say is not gonna work for you but as I sat there, I said to myself, don't fucking be a little bitch right now. All you've done is quit on yourself, all you've done is give up and if they judge you let them judge. And that's kind of where my head went, I said, if they judge me fine, let 'em judge me. I'm going in this building right now. I'm walking in this door. And what was really interesting is, so when I get in, I go in the back, I'm sitting in the back row. I'm on my mat. I'm in the far-left corner, it’s hot in there and like I'm sweaty already. I'm definitely the fattest person in the room by far. And I'm with all these fit, attractive people and I was just like, fuck this. And I wanted to run for that door so badly, I cannot explain it to you. Like the urge I felt to just get out, cuz I thought to myself, man, if I just get out then everything's gonna be okay. But again, this was my brain defaulting too just. Because when you quit, you're safe and when you quit, this is what you're used to. And when you're in the space of what you're used to, then you're safe, but you know, being safe and quitting doesn't really benefit you at all.

And so, I laid on that map, the instructor came in, her name was Hagen and I was just like, all right, let's go for it. And no bullshit, the very first thing she said is just do what you need to do today. And I'd never heard anybody say that before, I'd never crossed my mind that I could just do that. And so, I did, and I made it through that class and at the end, a bunch of people came up to me and, you know, cuz there's always kind of like that little bit of a conversation after class and a whole bunch of people came up to me and they're like, oh, are you new here? We haven't seen you, blah, blah, blah. And everyone was just hospitable and kind about it, and that was this really nice feeling.

So, I just kept going and I kept going and I kept going. I kept going much like in the same way that I did DDP, I just kept going and going and going. And so, as I continued to go, I started losing weight and I started feeling healthier. And as I was feeling healthier, I felt like I was more capable of being able to kind of step into being who I am and over time, these challenges would pop up in the studio. And I thought to myself, oh, well, I'll do one of these challenges one day. Right? That was always what I went to one day, one day, one day, one day I'll do it, one day I'll show up, one day I'll love myself, one day I'll take care of myself, one day I'll do the thing that I said I was going to do. And so, that one day actually did come, which was amazing. So that one day did come, oh, here I found the date guys, I know I was still looking, it was on, I'll tell you exactly, it was on December 19th, nine years ago, nine years ago, that's crazy.

So, this challenge comes up. I decided to do the challenge and it was 30 days and I ended up doubling it. I did 63 days and I learned an important lesson on day 63, coming back to what Hagen said day one, I wasn't listening and doing what my body needed, I had pushed too hard, too fast because again, I was still, I mean, in those two months, I dropped another 20 pounds like I basically lost 50 pounds over the course of like five months and I was just blasting off weight, it was really amazing experience to have. And so, day 63 comes, I end up really hurting my hamstring, like crippling bad, I couldn't go to yoga, I couldn't run, I couldn't walk, I couldn't work out nothing. And so, a couple weeks I had to recover. And over the years, I just kept going to yoga and going to yoga and going to yoga. Now here's what's really interesting about that as I got deeper into it, I discovered amazing online practitioners, like my friend Cole, who I mentioned earlier, who I've spent time with as we've bumped into each other around the world. I've met, you know, really amazing people who have had similar journeys in health and healing and using yoga as this tool to get healthy. And then I realized something really important when I was on the mat one day, I was in a class six years ago. And I was laying on the ground after the class and I was in my body, like really, truly in my body for the first time where I could feel just the high-level kind of lingering anxiety, where I could feel the joy, where I could feel the happiness, the sorrow, the sadness, all of it. Right? And as I felt, all of those things I actually had tears just like, well up in my eyes because it was the first time, I'd ever felt my body. And so, what I discovered in yoga and in this practice of this level of awareness was that it was the physical aspect of it that was beneficial to me in the journey, because then I've said this before I don't think that you can heal your mind without healing your body, it was that, but more so what it was; was the conscientiousness that had come to feel true that I actually was me in that moment. And look, I went through that weird phase that I think a lot of people do where I was just, I do yoga all the time and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and I was in time, you learn how to kind of like create a symbiosis of that and bring that into you and it's just a part of who you are, but what I discovered more and more and more and more, and I've done yoga around the world, in all these different environments, on all these different types of yogas, all these different types of meditations and integrative work and all the things, but on that mat something really beautiful happens. You get to be with you for 45 minutes or an hour or 90 minutes. And when you're with you, you get to have clarity. It's a, it's a guided meditation that just happens to be physical. And so, the more that I did it and the deeper that I got into it, the more I got to understand and know who I was, the more I got to get clarity about me, the more sense of like freedom of expressing myself in my truth and the willingness to honor who I was, would start to show up. And, but also here, I'm gonna tell you the dirty secret about yoga that nobody ever talks about some dark shit's gonna come up to, it ain't all fucking love and light. I don't care what anybody says. It ain't all love and light and Namaste, bro, you're gonna have some hard motherfucking days on that mat because when you are with you and your thoughts, you can't hide, you can't run from you cuz you are where you are. You know, and I would sit on that mat sometimes in the shame spiral, the guilt, the embarrassment, the hurt, the experiences of all the traumatic past the anger, the rage, like fucking massive rage would come up. And so, a lot of it was towards me too like, that's, what's really interesting about it, right? I'm raging against other people like I was mad at me, which, and I should have been because I was living a fucking bullshit life for a long time. But with that acknowledgement, the beauty in that was I started to find the space for grace and just go. Wait a second. Maybe this is my life because I didn't have parents who loved me enough to teach me how to love myself. And then you start to learn more and more and more and what was so wild about it, was the more that I laid on that map and the more introspective I got, the more I started to ask, like, who am I, what do I want, what are my values? My wants, my needs, my interests, my boundaries, my personal mission statement, right? Who was Michael? What does it mean to be me? And so, what would start to happen is slowly every single day I'd get off that mat and I would journal and, in the beginning, the journaling was weird, cuz I like it was, uncomfortable to share truth that I'd never shared even on paper, but the freedom of self-expression and love that came along with yoga, like helped me that, right? There's like the tantric experience of it in wholeness and being one with the universe and one with one self and discovering like this weird concept that I came across one day when I was pretty sure I was in Bali, I might have been in Thailand or Bali, it was right around that window where I was doing a yoga session. And I was thinking about this idea that if we are shaped in the image of God, that per scriptures, then that makes us a God. And in being a God, you have the ability to create or to destroy and just really having some discernment around the idea like I want to create, I want to build, I want to help, I want to change, I want to cultivate. And I know that's like super heady, but when you get in the silence of the mat, when you get in the silence of the practice, of the movement, of the non-judgment, of the space, where you allow yourself to be you, it's amazing, amazing, amazing what happens.

And so, this journey, even today, as I finish up a session on the mat, I just, I sat in the presence of me and that's the greatest thing that I've been able to use yoga for is just being able to be me, being able to use that tool, that thing that is so beautiful and so powerful and so potent, and so just present. Fill your breath, fill your body, fill your heart, your spirit, your soul, all of yourself, come together for this small period of time with no distraction and find out who you are. I'll say this, like I realize yoga isn't for everybody. I've had some similar experiences like on super long bike rides or really long runs or doing CrossFit or Muay Thai, but never at this depth. And I think about my journey to healing and I'm gonna tell you right now, in terms of physical practices, nothing's been better than yoga because it is just gonna help you reassociate, it's gonna help you reconnect your brain and your body and unfortunately, or fortunately, I guess it depends on how you wanna look at it, you're gonna learn some shit. You are gonna learn some shit. And in that, you're gonna take that shit and make the world a better place.

So, if you haven't practiced, I encourage it. Go check out my friend called Cole Chance. I mean, I'm not sponsored or anything by her. She’s my homie and I love her and she's helped me in my healing journey a ton. She's actually been on Think Unbroken, she's on an older episode. If you go on to thinkunbrokenpodcast.com. And if you go look at that featured tab, I want to say she's like episode like 42 or something. So, there was a couple years ago that her and I connected and did a show. But she's amazing. I love her practice; I love she does.

Again, check us out on YouTube at Think Unbroken Podcast. We're on all the platforms. If you're only listening to this on iTunes or Spotify, you can check us out on other places.

And then of course, if you ever wanna reach out I'm at Michael Unbroken on all the socials, and please do us a favor. If you found any value in this, if you've had any thoughts about anything, about what we do, please take 30 seconds, leave us review, it means the world.

And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

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Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.