one yogi's mental health and spirituality journey toward wellness

Yoga, an ancient physical and meditative practice, has become a popular ritual to escape our society’s constant chaos. Providing a retreat from a busy lifestyle, yoga pushes individuals to challenge themselves, both mentally and physically, while staying grounded and calm. Yoga teaches individuals how to focus on the present moment, rather than stressing about the future or being stuck in the past, referred to as mindfulness. Tuning in with your body through yoga can provide numerous benefits which have positively influenced the lives of many yogis. 

Terri Rozyla is an Experience Manager and Lead Wellness Educator with 20 years of personal and professional experience. She specializes in creating unique wellness retreats and programs, each combining the heartfelt elements of peace, relaxation and rejuvenation while pausing from the camouflaged veils of a task-filled, on-the-go lifestyle. The foundation of her retreats is derived by her driven curiosity to unearth renewed confidence through methodologies that help reduce stress, anxiety and burnout, all of which she healed her way through. 

Can you tell me a bit about your story?  

“At 18, I was diagnosed with GAD. By 30 with panic, triggers and PTSD.  I used work as my outlet to fill my time and camouflage my internal suffering. I did all that I could to keep my external self, the person that everyone saw, seem perfect. However, my soul was beaten and broken yet thankfully also hopeful and curious. After a series of health related issues and surgeries, I wanted something holistic and natural and so I began to explore alternative health as a means for support over a decade ago.  I had tried cognitive therapy, hypnotherapy and never found either quite enough to move my soul towards the freedom or peacefulness that I sought after.  Once I embraced meditation, matras and eventually yoga my whole life changed for the better, and still continues to.”

When were you first introduced to yoga and meditation? 

“I was first introduced to meditation by a spiritual healer in my early 30s that I had frequently gone to for a few years. Her name was Jasmine, like the flower.  She introduced me to the Chakras, crystals and how each energy field related to my life at that time frame. I found it so fascinating and encouraging to find relief from my struggles. Jasmine taught me how to meditate. She would assign me practice meditations to help me with the bouts of anxiety and panic attacks that I was experiencing from many of the life challenges that I tried to bury within me or avoid.”

“I was introduced to my first yoga class years later. I felt awkward and judged everything outside of myself. I didn’t get it.  I look back now and realize that my reaction was about my discomfort to come face to face with my authentic self and how much hurt I held onto. My tiptoe back into each class gingerly nurtured my soul towards healing the shadowed depths of my being. I felt invigorated and alive after each class. I would feel at peace with all things and find the beauty in all people. It made living life softer compared to the non-stop rigidity that I endured in my professional corporate lifestyle. A studio owner, whom I once had a crush on, had encouraged me to learn restorative or hatha style yoga. He would say that I embodied the essence of the style and I know that he was right.”

Where does your passion for yoga stem from?  

“Yoga means ‘Union of Self and Union with Others.’ As a deep analytical thinker with a very creative mind as well, I love the philosophy of yoga. It encourages me to explore my thoughts and creations on a deeper and meaningful level and meet people where they are as they are.  It then allows me to be just me as I am also.  Real People. Real Thoughts. Real emotions. No BS.  As an empath who feels deeply, it also strums my heartstrings of emotions deeply.  The combination of yoga and meditation strengthens my ability to feel my emotions while equally understanding them in a way that I can articulate them better than I used to. It helps to keep my anxiety at bay and/or again, articulate that I am anxious or overwhelmed when I am.”

What steps do you take to include yoga in your daily routine? 

“Before going to sleep every night and before rolling out of bed in the morning, I place one hand on my heart and one on my navel, close my eyes and breathe.  I feel the rise and fall of my chest and belly and truly listen to the sound of my breath. I thank God for my life and for whatever else comes to my mind at that moment.” 

“I can also say I notice the details of nearly anything daily.  From the sound of someone’s voice, the softness of my dog when I snuggle her, the leaves as they fold into themselves as the weather pattern changes. I am more aligned with nature and my surroundings or the symbolism of silent communications through energy fields of the Chakras.  For example, if I have a headache, I know my Crown Chakra is off balance and so I tend to myself more intimately to help restore that part of myself specifically.”

How have meditation/deep breathing exercises or yoga changed your life? 

“For years within my 20’s and early 30s I remember frequent bouts of anxiety, panic to the point I couldn’t breathe in fully, my mind racing and expressing myself with emotional outlashes or complete avoidance. Meditation and yoga have positively positioned me in this world to now lead myself in peace of mind, body and spirit. I feel lighter and yet empowered and centered. Instead of outbursts of emotion, I know when I need a few extra breaths or when to move my body to get some pent-up negative energy out.  My life is restored when in practice and balanced when I’m not in practice due to meditation and yoga. I have found self-awareness through meditation and yoga combined.”

Do you view yoga as more mental or physical

“I view yoga as a spiritual connection, or union of one’s soul. When connected to oneself is when one can then align with others in heart, mind and body. And by body, I mean movement.  Have you ever experienced or witnessed two in sync people where if one moves the other matches or compliments their move? It’s a beautiful alignment of connected energy.  This is yoga.  Yoga positively influences the mind and the body by releasing control and discomfort to embrace acceptance for what is and evoke the peace within.”

How long have you been an instructor? 

“Since 2014 for yoga, I’m not really sure about meditation since I technically started with the spiritual healer and wrote meditations for myself.”

What made you want to teach others these practices? 

“At first I felt pressured to teach by outside influences and so my teaching style was non-existent. I felt contained and fake when I would go on teaching auditions because the studio environment wasn’t for me. Once I embraced myself with love and tapped into a place of healing in my meditations that’s when it all clicked for me to teach others. I became relatable in my classes.”

“My music style, my ebb and flow between strength and power to challenge the spirit self to then be led to a humbled space of gentle nurturing were the invitation for others to join me on my journey through yoga and meditation.   Being a marathon runner with many injuries/recoveries equally contributed to my passion for anatomy and teaching proper alignment of the physical body. What I love most is walking through a class of people, feeling the energy or the space we are in and bearing witness to the spark in their eyes afterwards.”

Can you describe a time when you helped someone overcome a challenge or hardship with yoga? 

“I have been blessed to learn from many people who share their story with me on how I helped them with yoga and meditation. However, one that came as a surprise and that I remember fondly is when a squash player who was having some shoulder challenges during his game decided to take my class regularly to improve his rotation and endurance. After much time passed, he would later tell me how his game had improved yet that wasn’t all that he wanted to share on that given day.  He proceeded to tell me of an uncontrollable life experience by describing it with intimate details. My heart grew heavy while listening to him.  Upon the conclusion of his story, he told me how because of my teaching him how to breathe and meditate changed his life and fostered his ability to deal with the challenging experience calmly and in support of his mental health. It didn’t change his experience, but he said that he had changed how he dealt with it through what he learned in meditation and yoga with me. To this day it’s the best work compliment I have ever received and still makes my heart smile.” 

April 27, 2022

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