“People are always surprised when they hear my story because where I am now is not anywhere near where I started. From the time I was in elementary school, up until college and even after, I was training as a competitive athlete. I played field hockey, volleyball, and did gymnastics. But, what I was most known for in my hometown was being a track athlete. By nature, I was competitive, extremely independent, and a perfectionist.
Out of nowhere in 2001, I had gotten sick. Really sick. I had what appeared to be seizures, where from 5-45 minutes at a time my muscles would spasm uncontrollably and I’d become very sensitive to all external stimuli. Apart from the physical pain, mentally it was really difficult because for the first time, I had to depend on other people to function in my day-to-day life. I always thought I was in-tune with my body – but clearly not, because things like this develop over a period of time.
For the longest time, nobody knew what was wrong with me. No doctor could figure out the root of the problem. It felt like I was a prisoner; like I couldn’t escape. The meds made me feel like a zombie; to the point where sometimes I didn’t even know my name. I was out of work for a year, and the quality of my life continued to disintegrate. Finally, an endocrinologist looked at my blood work with a fine toothed comb, and came to the conclusion that abnormal levels in my parathyroid created an autoimmune hyperparathyroidism disease that was causing my spasms. Eventually, with medication I stopped having the spasms, only to have them resurface a few months later. I felt hopeless.
Still able to go to my gym, spoke to one of the trainers who told me I may benefit from hot yoga at NH Power Yoga. I decided to go to the studio, and immediately fell in love with it! The instructors were so gracious to me and my condition. They always kept encouraging me to come, discover, and heal, even when it was difficult. I allowed myself to feel their love, and I knew that they truly cared about me.
I’m a woman of prayer, and I prayed and knew I was supposed to come to yoga during this difficult time in my life. I live for God, and I know the reality of walking with Him on a daily basis. I’m here because God said do yoga, and He met me here.
What I found when I came to NH Power Yoga was the breathing. When I learned how to breathe- like, really breathe, it changed everything. No matter how much I exercised or how well I ate, I still had high blood pressure. As soon as I learned the ujjayi breath, it went down just like that. In my everyday life, everything around me can be chaotic, but if I have a quiet mind and a quiet heart, I’m fine, and my breath is all that matters.
When I met yoga, it felt like nothing else existed. I love it so much, and stopped doing every other form of exercise! When I’m practicing, I’m not aware of anyone else or thinking about anything else- unless somebody’s having a hard time in class, my eye will go to them- even if they’re in the back of the room. But other than that, I’m in front of that window in my own little world. I’m focusing on getting better at breathing, because there’s a stillness and a quietness in my mind that comes with a deep breath.
Everything else can be chaotic, yet with my breath I cultivate a quiet heart. I love yoga for the quietness that it brings me. The quieter I get in here, the better I am able to see that love is all around me. I can sense when people are being true, and when people are not; when love is real and when love is not. You can feel the love of everyone who’s there at the studio. To be able to come in this space and feel the love purely radiate is so special.
All my life, until I got sick, I felt like I’ve had to be perfect. As an athlete, it’s drilled into my mind not just to compete with others, but to compete with your own self. There’s no competition in yoga. There’s no perfection in yoga. All you have to do is show up, and breathe. Life is in the breath.
Before I got sick, life was going on without me. Literally, the leaves could change color all at once and I wouldn’t notice. Getting sick was a part of my journey because there are things I would of never experienced, had I not come this way. The beautiful thing is that I came from nothing. I came from this abusive family, and God brought me here to yoga and all the wonderful people around me.
I’ve been here since the late 80’s and yeah, I still go through a lot but it’s not the abusive, harsh life. I’m in an atmosphere of love now. I didn’t know that growing up. I was abused, torn apart, not able to express my emotions…And girl, I can express myself now, you know?! And, the other thing too – I’m a teacher, and had I not gone through all that crap I would never have been able to talk to my babies and tell them it’s gonna be alright. I can speak to them because I’ve been there and can assure them that, ‘your life is not always going to be like this, it’s really going to be alright’. Man, I’ve gone to hell and back.
I love being authentic, I love being real, and I love being with people who are those things. What I love the most in class is when the person to the right and the person to the left are all breathing – and if they’re not, I just say, ‘Okay, I got you – I’m gonna breath for you!’
The only reason I’m here is because God said, ‘do yoga.’ And, He met me here. It’s the truth that we really don’t have to be perfect, here. And, the other thing – being an athlete, we’re used to competing all the time, but in yoga there’s no competition. It doesn’t matter what shape you are in, it doesn’t matter what size you are, it doesn’t matter that I can do a headstand and someone else can’t. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to show up and breathe. Life is in the breath.
The only thing I suffer with now in my body is extreme muscle tension. But, I’ll tell you what, God put people on my path like all my doctors who are like sisters now to me; the one who figured out what was wrong with me, my naturopath who just takes my hand and brings me so much calmness…Ah, God has just put these people in my life to be with and hang out with! How lucky am I? We’re friends where there’s no walls and no barriers.
I firmly believe with all my heart that love is the most powerful thing you can ever experience. It’s the most powerful thing in the entire world – when love is real. The beautiful thing is that I came from nothing. God brought me out of that place, and put me in an atmosphere of love that I continue to live in everyday.”
– Olympia Clark