GO YOUR OWN WAY
I’ve lived my entire life with chronic and severe mental health disorders, primarily on the spectrum of non-verbal learning and mood disorders. There was never a time in my life where I felt that my brain was the same as someone else’s. I was left feeling alone and craving a sense of belonging with others. This slowly began to change when I found the community, discipline and lifestyle that was yoga. The mental effects of being part of this unified and universally connected lifestyle has provided me a platform to step onto and begin healing myself.
Yin and Yang
Before, I had never experienced the feeling of being totally clear headed. You know, the state of being where you have absolutely no thoughts, emotions or sensations? I like to describe my state of mind as being half like a hamster, nonstop on a wheel, and the contrast being a raven, high up in the trees. The hamster is lit on fire, just trying to complete a task, yet it’s just spinning its wheels. The raven is laughing and chuckling to itself as its respective self isn’t able to sit still and be its own observer.
I wondered to myself,
Where in my daily life and atmosphere can I be where I get to learn, understand and apply life lessons to who I am?
Yoga for me was never asana driven. It was for my anxiety, PTSD, OCD and depression and to find like-minded spirits to connect with wholeheartedly. I never had a purpose to wake up every morning when I was growing up. Everything felt hopeless and I had no clarity of where life was directing me on my path for making a difference in this universe. I wasn’t able to compose myself around other people without feeling extreme fear or self-consciousness of my body, image, mind and sense of worth.
When I found my place in this community, I was able to witness the shifts and expansions of my own cognitive health. Yoga allowed me to feel a sense of freedom where I could process my deepest traumas and insecurities. Yoga provided me the gateway to self-love and I then was able to walk the path to find my peers, teachers, mentors and everything in-between.
Over the last eight years, I’ve always been able to come back to yoga as a practice and an endless self-educational portal where I could explore kinaesthetically, visually, verbally and integrate absolutely anything I desired to feel met where I was. I have grown to love and accept myself and hold space for others to do the same. I want to encourage and inspire others struggling with their mental health to speak out and make a difference in others.
I take a strong and proud stance amongst my community here in Vancouver and advocate for the exposure and support of other men living with mental health. My dream in the future is to be able to provide services in the framework of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, specifically towards other gay, bisexual and transsexual men.
I never had this as an outlet growing up and I feel more than ever now I can make universal differences through my resources and voice as a gay man and a yoga teacher in this lifetime.
Hiiro is a Vancouver-based yoga instructor and founder of the True Identity Project. He encourages open dialogue and story-sharing in his classes and offers his students tangible takeaway tools to apply off their mat with the practical purpose of self care.