Sausha makes the 50km drive through rush hour and construction to attend classes at Goodlife’s Hot Yoga studio on Weber Street, Waterloo. In this interview, Sausha gives an account of how yoga has influenced her daily life – to cope with the physical, mental, and emotional challenges she faced with a head-on car crash, a snowmobile accident, her personal relationships, and much more.
Let’s start with what brought you into a yoga class.
There were 3 times in life where I was drawn into class for different reasons:
1st time – I was not a yoga person, knew nothing about it. I lifted weights and worked with a trainer who told me I could lift more, have more power if I had increased range of motion and could learn to breathe properly. I decided to start adding hot yoga to my regimen. I loved the challenge, the sweat, the detox & learning the importance of breath!
2nd time – I was going through a very dark time, dealing with a marital separation. I couldn’t learn to let go and although very difficult to get motivated during this time, I forced myself to come back to yoga to shut off my brain for at least one hour out of a day. Coming to class gave me something to look forward to. Yoga helped me to rid toxicity from my life, the negative thoughts (the vicious cycle of what if’s and what could I have changed or done better), resentment, anger, sorrow etc. I learned to not live in the past or desire anything in the future, just to live in the present-one day at a time. I found myself again, learned to be ok with “me”, there was so much more to life.
3rd time – Car accident & a snowmobile accident. From the car accident, I suffered a: broken sternum, broken clavicle (which is now replaced by a metal plate) broken rib, 2 broken vertebrae & 4 blown discs, severe concussion as well as numerous stitches to my head and face .
I returned once again to yoga after about 1 month as part of my physio regimen. Just as I was regaining strength and mobility the snowmobile accident happened: 6 months later.
I was run over by a snowmobile with a studded track, and my right foot was shredded. It took 4 reconstruction surgeries, skin grafts, a skin flap, transplanted artery, and a metal rod to replace metatarsals.
There was talk about amputating my foot. Having spent 2 full months in the hospital, with multiple surgeries, daily dressing changes: yoga and what I learned from practicing is what got me through each day! The stress, the pain, the utter chaos would have been impossible to manage if I hadn’t learned to focus on the present, or known breathing techniques. The mental strength I developed from yoga allowed me to literally treat the pain like a distraction: ignore it & focus on the moment or task at hand. I was outside of my body each day I tackled my dressing changes or had my IV moved, needles etc.
I was able to wake each day & find a positive: tell myself my pain was less than the day before, or could sit with my leg off side of bed for 5min. longer than day before or go another 100ft on my crutches without nearly passing out.
Once I was released, I returned to work after 1month and back to yoga 2 months after my release. It has become yet again part of my rehab, but mostly the source of my mental healing/strength. I am learning to accept and love who I am now: today, and as a completely different being from 2yrs ago.
How has yoga influenced your life?
A: It has helped in many ways. It got me through the biggest setbacks in my life due to the mental benefits. It kept me in the present, without being stuck in the past or rushing into the future. It gave me the energy to get through each day without comparing what I was capable of last year vs right now. Being mindful of my breath helped me deal with pain. I was able to heal better through mental strength, flexibility, & increased range of motion. I’ve carried the principles of yoga to work & even noticed it carry into my personal relationships.
Which moment was the most memorable in class?
When the parable of the Chinese Farmer was read. It summed up everything I’ve been going through and made me bawl!
Do you have a favourite yoga pose?
Arm balances – crow (bakasana) and one leg sage pose 2 (eka pada koundinyasana 2).
What would you say is the biggest challenge in the practice?
The psychological side: I learned in practice just how vulnerable I felt, how easily someone could guide or direct my thoughts-which is very personal to me. I have a very OCD type personality which feels most comfortable when in control of my own thoughts and emotions. It took a long time for me to trust my instructor and to fully let go mentally & spiritually during practice. To truly appreciate and understand the benefits of yoga practice and what it is all about, required me to stop trying to force or control my every thought, emotion or direction. It required me to surrender all ego and only be present in the moment, to trust in where my instructor was guiding me or to simply be open to silence. I had to retrain my brain from the constant buzz, noise and chaos it was used to-it didn’t know how to shut off. The silence was deafening & the unknown was terrifying to me. Regimen, structure & knowing what to expect was always my comfort zone. This was my biggest challenge & best lesson learned!
Thank you, Sausha, for taking the time to meet, and agree to this interview. It is a pleasure to see you return to your ‘space’ in the studio! 🙂 Now lets get you back in those arm balances and yet some! 🙂