I began my yoga journey over 15 years ago while battling a deep depression. I had recently come out of the closet, while struggling with my personal identity and self acceptance. There were so many factors that contributed to my depression. As a young adult, it was all so confusing to process. My parents divorced when I was very young and it was hard to know where I belonged. I was also a part of a religious community, where I made lots of amazing friends, but didn’t exactly feel accepted for my sexuality. When I graduated high school, I moved from Arkansas back to California hoping to get a fresh start and figure out what I was going through. It was definitely a bumpy start. I got involved in drugs, partying, and fought with suicidal thoughts. My lowest moment was being admitted to the hospital for a night for threatening to kill myself. I was so angry with my friends at the time for calling 911 on me, but thank God they did.
When I really hit rock bottom, my sister suggested I try some yoga and meditation. I started reading every book that I could. One in particular really stood out to me, “The Art of Happiness”, by the Dalai Llama. Hearing his story, the challenges he faced being responsible for the people of Tibet, and his commitment to relieving the suffering of all beings, inspired me to look at life differently. I was inspired to come out of my depression, use my story to help others realize we are not alone and that life is worth living fully.
When I began my yoga and meditation practice, I knew from the start that I wanted to teach. I was always inspired by the Buddhist teaching of the Bodhisattva vow to free others from suffering. This was one of the main lessons I took that helped me come out of my depression. For years, I’ve studied nonstop. I’ve read as many books as I could get my hands on, took as many trainings as I could handle, and practiced continuously.
I’ve been teaching full time for almost ten years now. I love it. I’m so passionate about this practice and how it can truly help people. I’ve been inspired by both my teachers and students to keep on trekking. But, let’s be honest, teaching full time in the San Francisco Bay Area is not as easy as one may think. The competition is high and the cost of living is insane. Currently, I teach 16 classes a week along with other offerings such as workshops and retreats. As much as I love my profession, burn out is real. It’s something I’ve had to manage over the years, at times more successfully than others. I know I’m not alone, many other teachers go through the same struggle. In fact, it’s not even limited to yoga teachers! So many of us suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression living within our high paced and intense environment.
I’ve found that more often than not, the first thing to get sacrificed when we are stressed and in a position of helping others is our own self care. When I am stretched thin, my practice falls apart, I don’t get the rest and downtime I need, and I make poor food choices. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, it makes a lot of sense that one would turn to food to stabilize when stressed and anxious. From a lack of proper rest, many of us turn towards stimulants to make up the difference. I love coffee as much as the next person; but, too much caffeine is like borrowing energy on credit, we will have to pay it back eventually. This creates a vicious cycle so many of us have dealt with. Poor food choices, a lack of rest, addiction to stimulants to wake us up and possibly alcohol to bring us back down. It’s no wonder that so many Americans suffer from so many preventable illnesses.
Teaching over the last ten years has had it’s challenges, but the benefits have totally outweighed the difficulties. I’m committed to staying on my path because I believe in the power of Yoga so much. I believe that Yoga and meditation have the power to change lives. But, I’m also committed to finding ways to make this path more sustainable for not only myself, but also for others. In the grand scheme of things, Yoga in America is still in it’s infancy. Teaching yoga as a full time profession is even more new to scene. So, many of us are learning as we go!
Just last month, I began another almost year long training program with my teacher. I find that remaining a student has been one of the most important aspects in both self-care and being a responsible teacher. I also began last month an amazing 40 day organic, non-GMO, superfood transformation and cleanse that I’m already feeling the benefits of! I really believe that diet and nutrition go hand-in-hand with Yoga. Mitahara, regulating one’s diet, is often translated as limiting one’s food intake. But, it’s far more than that. Mitahara is also about making skillful food choices that promote ahimsa, nonviolence, both towards one’s Self and all others, including our planet. I believe that Yoga and skillful diet make powerful allies!
I have grown so much over these last 15 years and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. Even when I’ve made poor decisions over these years, I’ve learned from many of my mistakes. I’m super excited for what’s to come and I’m committed to sharing my journey with you! I’m committed to continuing my own self growth so that I can be of service to my highest Self and to all other. If you are interested in joining me on this great adventure, please feel free to comment below!
Wes Linch was introduced to Yoga and Eastern philosophy over 8 years ago in a desire to know more about himself. He quickly discovered the benefits of Yoga far exceed open hips. Wes is a Vinyasa Flow instructor, having received over 700 hours of training through Yogaworks and Yoga Sol. He completed a 6 month mentorship with Mynx Inatsugu and continued to assist her for a year. In 2011, Wes received Shaktipat by Shri Anandi Ma and began studying a traditional tantric lineage called Kundalini Maha Yoga.