“To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” – Pema Chodron
These days, I live my life completely out of my comfort zone. I take risks and face my fears every single day, yet this is the most alive and present I have ever felt.
It started five years ago when my life took a downfall without a landing strip. Within a short time I moved back from a long span of living an expat life and trying to readjust, ended a mentally/emotionally abusive relationship that left me in a financial disarray, changed careers, and diagnosed with a health concern. As much as I tried to keep it together and stay strong, everything fell apart. I came undone. I was forced to surrender. I remember the moment when the plug was pulled and tears of shame, grief, sadness and feeling alone in the world poured out. I was in the midst of darkness. There was no way around the emotions. The only way was through.
My yoga mat was my altar where I could breathe, move and stay with each moment, with each day. It is through my yoga practice that I prayed, felt, allowed myself to breathe into the uncertainty and pain of my daily life. I could observe the thoughts, emotions and physical tension that had been holding me back. I clung to the need to control, protect and feel “safe”, only to discover that this kept me from fully living.
My yoga practice became a reflection of my inner journey. I practiced yoga daily, breathing and staying with difficult postures that helped me breathe into and stay in the difficult moments in my life where helplessness resided. To move into and feel the inner struggles, fears and overbearing emotions that kept me stagnant on the mat, and off. As I stayed with my breath and was present, I was able to gain strength on the mat and see where I was getting in the way. Where my mind was speaking, not my body. Letting myself be vulnerable on the mat, led to awareness and great compassion, and accepting support and guidance from others.
Through yoga, meditation and guidance, I summoned courage to look within myself with kindness and tenderness as I stayed with the uncomfortable moments and the panic attacks where I held my breath in fear. In facing myself, I began the journey of cultivating self-love. I was able to stay with emotions and get grounded within myself, and feel at home in my body, mind and heart. I was starting to feel alive. I gained strength, mental clarity, determination and inner peace that led to daring changes in my life that would shift everything.
Feelings of doubt and immense fear still show up, but my fierce spirit is stronger. Now, I use my fears to drive me to live a life of courage and purpose, the life of a warrior. I show up each day authentically bringing with me both the light and the dark, and all the magnificence in between. I show up as me.
I stay present with each moment, feeling grateful for everything that comes my way, building a life that fills my inner purpose and fills my whole being with light. I have unlocked my heart and let myself love with abandon, with no certainty of how it will play out.
I am grateful for every lesson of this journey, as it has led me back to myself, to feel, live and love with surrender. It led me to strength I never knew I had, and allowed me to dare to be and do things without certainty of the outcome. It has helped me to discover that failure leads to wisdom, creativity and a warrior spirit that never gives up.
I AM ALIVE!
Ella Isakov is a humanitarian and certified yoga instructor in the Toronto area. She teaches Vinyasa flow, Restorative, and kids yoga classes. She has traveled to over 30 countries and lived in seven, bringing a global perspective and life experiences into all her endeavours.
Ella is grateful for the beautiful gifts she continuously discovers on her yogi journey, on and off the mat. Her passion and purpose in life has always been to teach and inspire others along their path. In 2011, Ella raised $20,000 for Haiti with the “Off the Mat, Into the World” challenge and went to Haiti in February, 2012. She is also a leader in the Toronto yoga community and on the committee of “Yoga Unite,” a yoga initiative that holds fundraising events to create awareness for diverse non-profit organizations in the Toronto area that are creating change.
Ella left her career as an elementary school teacher, but has combined her two loves of yoga and children with her company “Stellar Kids Yoga”, providing yoga to children in Toronto with qualified kids-loving yoga instructors. Her goal is to reach out to communities where yoga is not accessible for children and families. Ella is also a Phoenix Rising yoga therapist, writes articles for several magazines, is a certified raw food chef, and leads holistic yoga retreats several times a year.
Ella teaches in studios and homes, as well as private and semi-private classes. She also holds contracts with schools to provide yoga as part of the Physical Education or After-school program. To find out more about Ella Isakov go to www.yoginipath.com and www.stellarkidsyoga.com