For those of you who don’t know me, and even for those who do lets back it up a bit…my name is Amy Rohrer…I am a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic wellness counsellor, wellness warrior, lover on things that set my soul on fire, and life long learner on this path we call life! However, I definitely haven’t always recognized my spiritual path (although we are always on it) but after a few wake up calls and a sudden illness at 27 let’s just say life stopped me in my tracks. Going through a healing crisis symptoms are often a wake up call for many. It forced me to start asking new questions, to learn how to be with the uncomfortable and to switch gears from my outward achieving to inwards inquiring.
While this crossroads in my life started 7 years ago, I vividly remember asking myself these kinds of questions…
Why did this happen?
- Who am I if I can’t do my job, my usual activities and things that defined me as me?
- Why are we all here? Surely the meaning of life isn’t to live in this kind of chronic pain- but how do I come out of this?
- What is this new chapter trying to teach me?
And so it began…a true unraveling of the “Amy” I thought I was. At the age of 27, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect joints causes inflammation and deformities, and in some people it can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. While I don’t spend a lot of my time focusing on this period in my life anymore, I wanted to share this chapter with you all as it was the point my life that really activated a deeper journey for me into the path of yoga, healing, soul searching, and seeking answers to all the burning questions I had above! I also share this because I know at that point in my life, I didn’t have many people I felt comfortable sharing this with, and if you are in a chapter of a dark knight of the soul, I hope to normalize those feelings and shed some light into your chapter! I think 2020-2021 has brought a few dark nights to many of us, so these lessons I learned have definitely supported me through the challenges and unknowns we have all gone through as a collective since March of last year.
So back to the story! Upon hearing the diagnosis, mourning the news, and deciding where to go from there… I knew I needed to take some time to honour my healing, to process, to push pause on what life looked like then so I could implement some positive changes in my life. And at that point in time yoga had been my saving grace and was the one solid thing that brought me a sense of peace, connection, more ease on the hard days, community and feeling safer in my body.
I had been practicing yoga at that time for nearly 6 years, on a fairly physical level, but always felt some sort of relief when I got onto my mat and always took a little of that home with me. Even on the hard days, getting on the mat was a place that it was okay to not feel ok, but to be with those feelings and let them move through me. I had this feeling, that if yoga was helping me feel better in just 1 hour x day, what would be the effect of diving deeper into the learning and philosophy behind the practice? Becoming a yoga teacher seemed like a bucket list dream for many years, but my sudden illness with RA lit a fire inside of me that pushed me to take the leap of faith. At this point, I had nothing to lose! So I quit my job, packed up all of my belongings, rented a U-HAUL and with the help of my parents moved all of my stuff back home to Ontario (Canada) from the eastern province of New Brunswick where I had been living for 4 years. I basically put the UHAUL goods in storage and then re-packed my bag for a 3 month trip to an ashram in the Bahamas to devote time and space for my healing through a 200 hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training. There are many synchronicities that led up to this opportunity seamlessly manifesting… long story short…when I put this intention out there, the universe was there to provide in magical ways and the money I didn’t have, seemed to all line up to pay for the course.
So in May 2015 I ventured off to the Bahamas, not knowing quite what to expect but also knowing that I was headed in the right direction, to feed my soul. I arrived to Nassau, Bahamas with nothing but a bag and a yoga mat hopped onto a little boat to head over to Paradise Island to the Ashram Retreat. And just to create a visual…its well suitedly called Paradise for this reason below!
After having a few days to settle in to my tent hut, the rigorous 28 day teacher training program began. Everyday I would wake up at 5:30am to the sound of a bell awakening the whole ashram, and there was no staying in bed! Mediation started at 6am, followed by kirtan (music/chanting) and a spiritual lecture each morning. Then we were off to morning yoga class, followed by a vegetarian brunch, karma yoga (selfless service), afternoon lectures/philosophy, practice teaching, dinner, followed by evening meditation/lecture (better known as Satsang). Every day followed this routine, morning to night! It was one of the most challenging things I have ever underwent, and yet the most beautiful gift I have ever given to myself. These 28 days showed me what I was truly capable of with trust, discipline and belief in myself. I then stayed for an extra month and a half to participate in karma yoga (selfless service) where you work in a certain area of the ashram, while cultivating a sense of detachment to the outcome. Service for the sake of giving, without expectation. And while even in paradise, there are still lessons and emotions bound to come up!
During this time in the Bahamas I realized that first and foremost, the journey to healing starts completely with loving oneself unconditionally. It sounds so simple, but think of how often we neglect our own needs and self care? How often we attach our worth to our achievements and living in the “do”? How often we put the life mask on someone else before putting it on ourself? And another one… how often do we believe our limiting beliefs and negative self talk to be true?
Going through this process, it was as though my lens of life flipped without the distractions of being back home in my normal routine and environment. I realized that I had burned myself out with my ‘do do do’ mentality, had a lot of unprocessed trauma from the past, and also had a lot of fear and boundaries with letting love in to my life from past relationships, which was actually a reflection of the love I was giving myself. So I began the process of unlearning these patterns, these ways of thinking, the limiting beliefs, and started to let love back in! I left the Bahamas with a revival of my faith, deep connection to self, and I am forever grateful that I took that leap of faith for myself to get there. I now understand God to be a divine power, that is in no way separate from ourselves. I felt this so very deeply there. To me, God, the divine, nature – whatever you resonate with calling it… is within us and all around. The names are many but there is no higher religion than love, and that is the common ground of all mainframe religions. For many years the differences between religions had held me back through my travels and seeing different cultural views. This reconnection to the divine instilled in me a deep trust for my life. I started to see the synchronicities that had led me there, I trusted that things would work out when I moved back home, even though I had no clue what would unfold. I left there with a love for myself deeper than ever before, for compassion on what I had been through, with many amazing encounters with beautiful souls with inspiring stories, a spiritual practice that made me excited to get out of bed again and a new found tool box of self care practices to treat my body, mind and soul.
Now 7 years later, life looks very different than it did upon that scary diagnosis at the time. But I never forget the journey from there to here and I am thankful in many ways for it. While there have still been many challenges on the path since then- my ability to ride the wave of the ebbs and flows has expanded in ways I never thought imaginable. Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work in, and this is the point of spiritual practice- to open our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can come back to the truth of who we really are, to remember what we already know and be our unique self! Being our authentic selves is our biggest competitive advantage we have in this life – and when the roots to our true self are deep, there is no reason to fear the storm.
I look forward to connecting with you here in future posts, and in the meantime if you are wanting to learn more about yoga, the sister science to yoga (Ayurveda), my services head to www.amyjulienne.com and also be sure to check out my new women’s Ayurveda & Cyclical Living program ROOTED signature program launching the end of May 2021 🙂
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