I would have never imagined that I would be writing a testament to how Yoga changed my life. Yoga is broadly a physical, mental and spiritual practice, which helps in the healing of the mind and body. I had no experience with this tradition, and as an athlete who is generally skeptical about new things I was cautious about starting something new. But I stand here today, transformed, and thankful that I have started on this journey to self-healing.
I was two years into my quadrennium journey to my Mount Olympus, Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 103rd Olympic games. I saw myself as an ancient gladiator, fighting to get to the top. I had committed everything, sacrificing a lot in my journey, but I had hit a wall.
Judo is a brutal sport and it takes a toll on your body. I was at my first big games, Commonwealth Glasgow 2014, and I was suffering from a lot of pain. I learnt in my life before Yoga, to tough it out, and my body would manage. But I came to a point where I needed to take a different conduit to get where I wanted to go, or the engine that drove me would fail half way up the mountain to the Olympics.
Within sports there is a mentality that I had been bred into, one that instills tenacity and mental fortitude but rejects listening to your body when it is screaming for care, and attention. I needed a paradigm shift, my confidence, and resolve was eroding with every throw, and fall, that the grind of Judo calls for. I needed a community to teach me how to find my best self, how to find my best self as I journey toward my ultimate goal.
“Sangha” in Sanskrit means community. Just as I learnt to be an athlete by training, being part of a team and living the life of a Judoaka, I needed to join a community of people who understood the need for self-awareness, surrender, and healing through devoted practice. I found this in The Sangha Yoga Trinidad Studio, with Karen Blackman, and all the instructors who are part my new community.
I honestly believe that without this direction, my journey to be an Olympian would have stalled. The knowledge that I have gained about myself is profound. Yoga for me is an on going journey to my self. And this commitment is now part of my athletic life.
I look forward to the transformation that my body will go through in the next few years- more flexibility, more strength, and a clearer mind. I have found my community – my Sangha.
First-Time Judo Olympian, Trinidad and Tobago
4-Time National Champion Trinidad and Tobago