My yoga journey started with an adamant refusal to let go of what I loved the most. I was told that I could no longer participate in high-intensity workouts or contact sports. Letting go of my passion to participate in competitive sport seemed like an impossible request. When chronic illness and a couple of surgeries ended my collegiate soccer career early, I felt hopeless and lost. In hopes of finding another alternative, I stubbornly replied, “I’m sorry but I just cannot accept that. I need to be active and move.” With sensitivity, but little understanding of my frustration, he sighed, “Well, I guess you can try yoga.” In my mind, yoga was better than nothing. Having no expectation that I would actually enjoy it, I replied, “Fine. I’ll try it.”

Flash forward to my first ever class. I anxiously walked into the studio, clueless of what a “Chaturanga Dandasana” was or how to properly find my “ujjayi pranayama.” Nonetheless, I hesitantly unrolled my mat and tried to appear less clueless than I was. The instructor offered the intention, “trust the process.” Her intention seemed almost too fitting for the circumstance. Although I am prone to hyperbole, I can honestly say that my first yoga class changed my life. I left the room feeling empowered, liberated, and energized. It was a feeling that I have never experienced before, especially after my most recent situation of pain and hopelessness.

After class I talked to the instructor and immediately felt comforted and supported. She encouraged me to enroll in teacher training, which only led me to awkwardly laugh. “Yeah, um I can’t even touch my toes. I had no clue what to do during class.” She simply replied, “Well, you have to start somewhere.” And she was right. So that afternoon I impulsively, but instinctively, signed up for the 200-hour teacher-training program at CorePower Yoga. To this day, it is the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

Throughout the 8 weeks of training, I learned so much about the history, principles, and technique of yoga. I can now tell you what a Chakra is, the purpose of essential oils, and who Patanjali was! But, even more (importantly), I learned about myself. I found strength through discomfort and joy through growth. I finally began to feel better physically after almost a year of being bedridden. I felt more like “Mia” again.

Flash forward to now. I am happily teaching yoga at CorePower in Charlotte, North Carolina. Even though every day I experience physical pain, I find that yoga is still the best “medicine” for me. When I make it to my mat, I feel an immediate sense of relief and excitement. I am now, more than ever, grateful for opportunities of physical exertion. Some days, I silently admit, “You showed up. The hardest part is over. Now, just trust the process.”

Through this journey, I’ve realized that many other students experience similar struggles. Oftentimes, just arriving to class is the greatest challenge. Like many others, I can create elaborate excuses to skip class. “I have nothing to wear to class. I need to run to the mall to a dress (that I will never wear). I just saw a French Bulldog on my drive over, so I just had to stop!” Whatever the excuse may be, understand that the victory comes from just showing up.

To this day, one of my favorite aspects of yoga is the connection I make with my students. I love hearing their stories in order to help them achieve their fitness/health goals. Although I was originally hesitant to share my experience with chronic pain, I’ve come realize that just maybe my store can resonate with others. Never intending to be a poster child for chronic illness, I now find myself enthusiastic about giving hope to others- whatever their struggle may be.

If you’ve ever experienced doubt or insecurities about “trusting the process,” then trust me– I’ve been there. And I can promise you that you will never fully understand your potential until you just show up. “Trusting the process,” means opening yourself up to new possibilities and recognizing that new challenges provide opportunities for growth. So the next time you have the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, just show up and trust the process. Even if that means you have to let go of something you love the most.