From Childhood Struggles to Teaching Asanas: My Life’s Journey

How I survived through a difficult childhood and youthful excesses which culminated in a car accident to find healing and purpose in yoga.


I grew up in Brno, a city in the Czech Republic, where I still live today. One of my earliest memories is that of my first birthday. I didn’t understand why my mom wasn’t there. Dad was doing his best to take care of me, fussing about nervously, taking photos of me with a little cake and its solitary candle.

I learned that my birthday present was to be a baby sister. I didn’t understand why. Children were supposed to get a toy; something funny or cute to make them happy. What was I supposed to do with a sister? But, it was all they could offer me. We were in a communist regime, and our disharmonious family didn’t have much.

A few days later, mom returned with the new treasure, a screaming baby sister who had taken her from me. I wanted mom to myself. It was my first experience of jealousy, an emotion would follow me throughout my life.

Childhood: Chaos and Lessons Learned

Some siblings love each other one moment and hate each other the next. At least, that’s how it worked between my sister and I. We hated and fought each other. We loved and stood by each other. Looking back, I guess we were copying the pattern that we had observed in our parents. Those early experiences taught me what a lack of true love looks like.

Dad was a violent rebel, and mom was a seasonal alcoholic. Their marriage was a mess although they loved each other in their hearts. After each breakup, they would eventually get back together. My childhood was veiled by a cloud of misunderstanding, fear, pain, and sadness. Gradually, after being disappointed too many times, I lost the desire to live and attempted suicide several times. However, thanks to a weak spirit, I failed each time.

Brno, Czech Republic. Image Source: Norbert Aepli via Wikimedia Commons.

Adolescence: Growing Up Too Fast

When puberty hit, it opened the floodgates of negative emotions which I had suppressed throughout my childhood. Rebelling against the rules, I got in with the wrong crowd, danced all night in clubs and experimented with alcohol and drugs. I wanted to try everything and was fearless.

When I turned twelve, I was struck down by severe migraines for the first time. They seemed to accompany my maturing and were perhaps a balancing force to counteract all the partying. Despite my suffering, the doctors were at a loss, unable to point to a cause. Somehow, I always survived thanks to traditional pain medicines.

Even after communism ended, life was still hard. Perhaps as a way to escape the harsh realities, I developed an attraction to the esoteric and fled into the study of spirituality. I examined my own experiences, trying to make sense of them.

I yearned for connection and found myself attracted to people with strong convictions and a powerful sense of self. Various psychotropic substances helped the process. While high, I felt like I could observe and understand life from heights far above that of mundane existence.

This period of life ended when it became just too much. Somehow, I had an awakening. I felt an inner sense of discipline urging me to give up those chemicals that distorted our perspectives on the world. I also tried to rescue my friends and share with them my renewed belief in our natural abilities, in our strength and will. I discovered that there is another dimension and an inherent power within me. I believe that had helped me to stay alive.

Brno, Czech Republic. Image Source: Rudy & Peter Skitterians via Pixabay.

The Accident: a Pivotal Point

One night, a friend gave me a ride home in his car. He wasn’t paying attention and neglected to give way to his right at an intersection. We had an accident and ended up in hospital. This experience left its marks forever on both my body and my soul.

I spent months recovering, laying on my couch while living on insurance payments. In addition to the physical pain, my mental health suffered. Nevertheless, my body began to recover, thanks in no small part to the rehabilitative exercises I had regularly been doing. Eventually, I regained the ability to stand on my own legs again, then walk, and finally work out like a regular person.

This time gave me pause to reflect and release the past. Moreover, I was lucky to start a new romance despite the many limitations. Despite my newfound clarity, however, I was not yet ready to face reality — after all, that would have been too easy for me…

Brno, Czech Republic. Image Source: Jiří Rotrekl via Pixabay.

Discovering Yoga: Finding Myself

After some time together, my boyfriend and I found ourselves drawn to attend a yoga seminar which was taking place in Croatia by the sea.

Each day, we learned poses, breathing exercises, spiritual practices, and philosophy. It was during this seminar that I experienced my first Sun Salutations, mantra chanting, and learned about chakras. While there was obviously a limit to what we could learn during just a few days, it nevertheless provided me with a fantastic overview of yoga.

I had not anticipated how profoundly all of this would affect me. The main teacher, Eva Tichonova, was a mother of four sons. Her natural charm and gentle humor won my heart. Teaching with her was yogi and artist, Jana Sancova. Both women greatly inspired me and yoga has been an essential part of my life ever since.

After returning to my hometown of Brno, I searched for a place to learn more about yoga and spirituality. It was still early days for yoga in the Czech Republic, and so I couldn’t find any suitable classes. I ended up studying alone with the help of what books I could get my hands on and, later, the internet.

Some years passed and eventually, Power Yoga became popular in the Czech Republic. I found that the practice came naturally to me, it felt good, and I found myself attending lessons regularly. However, although my body was benefiting, becoming stronger and more flexible, it was not enough for me. The classes were lacking in the principles of classical yoga, and so eventually I lost the interest to continue. Once again, I withdrew into self-study and practicing alone.

Scotland: My Year Abroad

Some time later, I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland for a year. In this beautiful country full of magical nature, freedom, and self-knowledge, I formed real friendships and encountered the limits of my endurance.

I lived mainly with other foreigners. We had all been thrown into the deep end and were learning to live from our direct experiences. One of my good friends there encouraged me to restart my yoga practice. We used to go to the local park to practice various poses. Sometimes we managed to coerce our flatmates into joining us.

Edinburgh Castle. Image Source: Saffron Blaze via Wikimedia Commons.

Upon returning to the Czech Republic, I lost my partner, found a new job, and moved into a little flat near a rough part of Brno known for gypsies. My daily practice fell by the wayside as I struggled to adapt to my new circumstances, and I began to suffer backaches again, especially in in my upper spine. My health deteriorated, and I ended up back in rehab for my injuries.

Motherhood: Surviving and Thriving

A pivotal point happened right after the birth of my daughter, Romanka. I became a single mother and had to take care of her alone. The strain and stress caught up with me again, and I lost the sensation in my right hand.

A kind friend took pity and took me to meet a yogi who taught me methods of self-care. I started attending her lessons regularly. They not only brought me much needed relief but also provided perspective and clarity. Her positive attitude gave me motivation and gradually my overall well-being improved.

After a few years, I regained sensation in my right hand. It was not only the physical improvements that motivated me but also my precious daughter. Step by step, I experienced healing as suppressed emotions were released.

With my precious daughter, Romanka.

As was to be expected, however, new life obstacles appeared as if to meet the new and stronger me, only these were more challenging and difficult than I had experienced before. Looking back, I wonder how I overcame them as quickly as I did. While it was hard to see at the time, reflecting on the months and years that had passed allowed me to see how significant my progress was.

It felt like my life was progressing in a spiral pattern. Events, the environment, and even people surrounding me felt suspiciously similar to those I had encountered before, only this time, they were gentler and calmer. It gave me the courage to go on. Although I felt, from time to time, exhausted and wanted to give up everything, I let myself be guided by my instincts. While they often surprised me with their illogicality, they showed me what I really needed.

Teaching: Sharing Yoga with Others

The idea of leading my own yoga sessions came from my friends, including my teacher. I tried teaching a few lessons, and they encouraged me to continue. Over time, I grew my career as a yoga teacher and eventually found the courage to set up a website as a way to share my offerings in both Czech and English.

Having invested so much time studying yoga and teaching, receiving positive feedback means a lot to me. I love hearing how my classes have helped to improve my students’ mental and physical health, leading to them having fuller lives.

Me teaching outdoors. I prefer smaller classes because they allow me to give more attention to each student.

Reflections

Yoga has helped me learn to process what I have experienced in this life thus far. It helped me discover true self-love and learn its worth. It also helped me to reconcile the dark side of my personality.

Yoga is based on the connection with yourself and others around just by being as you are. Everything you get naturally lasts forever.