Let me tell you a story.  Instead of the usual posts about kids yoga let’s mark the 100th anniversary of International Womens Day (IWD), by getting to know the women behind the yoga. Today we’re getting personal.

Its easy to wear blinders as we ride the merry-go-round called planet earth.  To not see our companions, real people, with real hearts and real heartache. A big part of IWD is to come together as women and help make each other stronger.  This would be great to do everyday, but March 8 helps me remember to do it.

I’ll go first and I’d love, if you can, for you to share something too.  Maybe a comment or a link back to a blog post about yourself.  This post (whenever you may be reading it) is for building a sense of solidarity, connection, and community.  It may even help someone see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m going to share three personal things today:

  • My life started in polyester.  Both my parents worked to make ends meet. They had three kids by the time my mom was 26 and my dad was 28.  Now, it seems strange to have a family at such a young age, but it wasn’t strange at all back then.  Many people started families young.

A Family Picture at my First Communion

That’s me in the middle.  Its a favorite picture of mine because I feel so cozy in the middle.  I was always in the middle of my two sisters which probably helped me become a better mediator of who got the last processed cheese slice or who got to choose the TV show.  This photo also reminds me of my spiritual identity, which began back in these days with me feeling like a Princess of the Creator.  It’s how I still want to feel.  Plus despite all the polyester, I think I rocked the jaunty crown.

  • Flash forward, here’s me standing up for what I believed at the big IWD rally in Toronto.  This was in 1995 when hundreds of women joined together for the Women’s Day parades which marched right down Yonge Street, the main strip in Toronto.  I was a bit of a bleeding heart when I did social work and had a special soft spot for slipping homeless youth my spare change even on the job.

Here I’m giving a speech about poverty issues at IWD in Convocation Hall, Toronto (the woman beside me is signing what I’m saying – cool!)

Two of my best friends were there (thanks Brenda and Catherine for taking the pic of me!).  We were standing up for children’s rights even back then with our signs and speeches!  I thought I had the world all figured out.

“Hands Off Daycare” Women standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

  • Then three years later my life changed direction to upside down, when I was sexually assaulted at work.  Its been sixteen years since that happened and for the first two years I couldn’t talk about it without either breaking down in tears or getting angry at someone.  I was not fun to be around.

The rug had been pulled out from under me.  Everything I thought was real, turned out to be an illusion.  I thought I would be smart enough that it wouldn’t happen to me.  I thought society would dish out some justice but the charges didn’t hold up in court and the perpetrator walked free.   I thought it was the worst thing that could happen, but it ended up changing my life.

Yoga like Archer Pose showed me how to set the mark!

Looking back now I can see that that depressing time eventually led me to greater happiness. I did months of therapy, tons of yoga, and eventually left social work to became a yoga teacher.  Now with my blogging and teacher training I feel so grateful to connect with others and help uplift children all over the world.

But as I said, I didn’t know this in the midst of my pain.

If someone told me back then that the sexual assault would be the cornerstone of a new life, a happier life, I couldn’t have believed it.  The Masters suggest that through inner strength greater happiness is possible.  By getting to know who I am, I began to feel like the Princess of the Creator again.

Still, how do we help others who are in pain feel that happiness is possible again?  By speaking our truth. Today, let’s remind each other that while we put on a brave front and may look like everything is under control, we have all gone through our share of heartache, we are not alone.  Out of tragedy, happiness can triumph.

I think blogging is so popular because that’s exactly what is happening:  Women sharing our stories with other women. Now won’t you share a piece of your story, here or with someone you love, a story to uplift others.  Women, we are not alone. The only thing that is constant is change.

To all around the world:  Happy International Women’s Day!

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  1. Thanks to everyone for the heartfelt comments.

    The comments are still open if you’d like to add something.

  2. I really want to try Yoga because of so many stress.. unfortunately my schedule is always
    loaded I can’t find time to enroll for Yoga.. But when I read your article I think it’s time to
    find way to start my Yoga session…
    great post!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I came from an alcoholic abusive childhood and became a dedicated wife and mother. I teach children, adults and seniors how to live an organized life focused on today and not yesterday. I don’t dwell on my violent past but I use it as a tool to show you can overcome and be a healthy loving individual. We all could use a little help to be happy sometimes…and I love to help.

  4. You rock and I love you tons and tons and tons!!!

  5. Hi Aruna,

    I hope you remember me. Your story inspired me. I am honored that chose to share it with all your readers and friends.


  6. Thanks for sharing this personal post Aruna. Inspiring with regards to all you’ve done and dealt with in your life, but also inspiring to encourage others to open up and share with others their own personal story. We are helping ourselves and others by doing so. Now – if only I had the time!! Happy 100th IWD!

    • I agree, things are so buy. While these things are best remembered everyday, I like the “Day’s” like International Women’s Day to remind us! Thanks for your comment Lisa.

  7. thank you for sharing,i am motivated to stay with yoga,i am a beginer at it thanks and more power to us.

  8. Aruna, Thanks so much for sharing. You’ve inspired me to share as well. So many of us have had trauma in our lives, whether as children (my case) or in adulthood. What I have noticed is that those who have suffered, particularly women, seem to have a depth of compassion, understanding and empathy for others that often leads to their life work, their ‘dharma.’ Looking at your beautiful work and seeing we’ve had similar paths makes this even more clear to me.

    I have to admit I don’t get personal in my blog posts very much, but you have opened my eyes to the importance of doing just that. It’s an empowering message you’ve shared and one that will help many women to reach out and support each other. What a beautiful celebration of International Women’s Day!

    Namaste Aruna.

    • Thanks for your wise words Lisa. It does seem to lead to a connection with dharma, what’s truly important.

      When I sat down to write this blog post I didn’t intend on writing about this, but it led there. It was hard to push the publish button. But I know for each woman out there reading there is a story behind, maybe someone would relate and get a little hope.

  9. P.S. You certainly do rock the jaunty crown!!

  10. Aruna;
    What an inspiration you are. You possess such a lovely, calm, warm spirit. One would never know the horrible pain you went through. Thank you for getting personal. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic step-father and a mother in complete denial. I am still trying to get over it. Yoga has helped. Thank you. And Happy International Women’s Day to you!

  11. Aruna I really really appreciate this personal post. I’ve always loved your blog and have been so happy to learn from you, but now I feel connected in a different way, and that is special and powerful. I’m inspired by what you have recognized through your life’s path thus far.

    • Thanks for the comment Clare. I use that time to remind myself what is possible when times are tough.

      Your blog is great for inspiration. I’d love if you linked to one of your favorite posts.