Autism Action Time!

 

Thank you so much for all the love and support from my previous post – Autism Awareness for the yogi !

I mentioned the group – TACA (Talk About Curing Autism)in my blog – as a source of help and support to my child and my family.

TACA is run by donations of family and friends of those children living with autism, and provides resources, support group meetings, family picnics, holiday parties & seminars from leading doctors, therapists & child advocates.

TACA gives families the tools they need to navigate through this very challenging diagnosis – and I have made lifelong friends in TACA.

Evolation Yoga – in midtown Atlanta will be holding a benefit class on Friday April 18th at 10am – and I am going to teach it!  🙂  Click HERE – if you would more information or to join us!

If you are unable to attend, but would still like to help support the efforts of TACA – please click HERE!

April is Autism Awareness month – and we truly appreciate your help and support!

Here is a short video I made about our family, autism – and the help that TACA has given us.  Please take a moment to watch if you can!

XO –

Sarah Kleiner

Autism Awareness for the yogi

In April of 2009 I walked into a studio and stepped onto a yoga mat.

In April of 2009 – I was utterly broken.   I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep – I couldn’t do anything except for drink more wine, get more angry & feel more sorry for myself.

My perfect – beautiful – 16 month old baby girl had just been diagnosed with autism – and my heart was utterly broken.

I needed to be “healed” or “fixed”….or something.   I was searching for that something to make me whole – and to make me forget all the sadness.

SO – I stepped into a new studio and onto a yoga mat.

I was instantly in love with the breathing – the moving – the intensity, and the silence.   For the first time in a long time – the sound of screaming in my own head stopped.   I was able to escape to another place – and to forget my crumbling world – if only for 90 minutes.

As my journey with yoga began – so did my journey with Autism.

This “condition”- I only had heard of on the news or in the movies – came in and took over the life of my child.

A once – very happy, interactive & responsive baby – was now a toddler that screamed constantly – didn’t speak at all – slept only 2-3 hours per night – didn’t respond to her name, wouldn’t let me hold or comfort her and seemed locked away in her own world.

I quit my corporate job and became of full time “Autism-mom”.

I shuttled her from therapy to therapy, doctor to doctor. We traveled coast to coast – trying to find the right autism doctor for her, and we stopped taking vacations so we could afford the best of the best for this child.

All the while – I kept up with my yoga – 5 or 6 days (and sometimes) 7 days a week at the studio. It was the only way that I kept from completely shattering into a million pieces.

Even if I had only slept 2 hours the previous night – I knew that during those 90 minutes – I would be able to find the peace, solace & healing that I would need to get through the remaining 22 & ½ hours of the day.   During those 90 minutes – I would surprise myself with the things my tired body was able to do – just by coming back the next day and trying again.

During all of this – I also found TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) – and a wonderful group of families & children coping with autism.

It was at TACA that I found other moms who became my fast friends – and started to hold my hand as I walked down this road.

Here was a network of people who were able to give me a glimmer of hope for the first time in a long time.   This group held support group meetings, seminars from autism doctors and therapists, picnics and parties – just for families and kids with autism.   I stopped feeling so sad and alone all the time.

With lots of love, help and support – my daughter began to make slow progress. She began to open the door into our world – just a little. I began to see the twinkle in her eye that had been missing for so very long.

After a few years – we made the decision that I would go to yoga teacher training – and begin a career as a yoga teacher – so I could continue to give my daughter the attention and care she needed (and teach the yoga that had helped me change my life!).

During my teacher training – my relationship with yoga changed dramatically. It was no longer a source of pure “escape” – but a place that became more about “pure acceptance”. Finding that path to acceptance was the key that unlocked the door to actually living my life – instead of trying to escape it all the time.

Learning acceptance of my body, my strengths, my limitations, my flaws & my shadow self – was a process that was just beginning on my yoga mat.   It was vital to me – if I was going to teach.

Suddenly – It wasn’t during the most technically difficult yoga pose – or most physically demanding practice where the “yoga” began, it was shining a light on all of those “shadows” within myself that the real yoga began.

Through the yoga – I realized that learning acceptance of my daughter was the larger picture for me.

How could I truly love this child if I couldn’t accept everything about her and every single hair on her head?   Even if it was the most painful thing in the world – I couldn’t keep running and escaping.

In my physical yoga practice, I could force myself into different poses that my body wasn’t ready for just yet – and I would get hurt.

And if I forced my daughter to be someone that she wasn’t – if I denied her autism – if I denied who she was for just one moment – I would get hurt, and so would she.

We have been living with autism for the last 5 years.

It has been the hardest thing I have ever dealt with in my life.

My daughter is 6 years old and cannot speak a sentence – even though we have had countless hours in speech therapy.

My daughter cannot communicate her basic needs to me – and often cries and screams in frustration.

In public – we often get stares – as she makes strange noises to block out the sensory input that overwhelms her mind and her body.

It is really really hard – and sometimes I just want to take her and run far far away.

But we don’t stop showing up – trying – accepting and loving her just the same.

And I haven’t stopped doing yoga either. In fact- teaching yoga has changed my life even more for the better.

Yoga is most definitely about healing. Yoga is most definitely about transformation.

But, for me, yoga is truly about acceptance of just this moment – just this breath – and what we have in front of us – just right now.

Yoga can do amazing things for people, and has done amazing things for me.

But instead of something that helps me escape my life, yoga helps me live my life.

Yoga reminds me that if I keep showing up, and I keep trying every day – things will change – healing will happen & light will illuminate.

My daughter teaches me that these things will happen when they are supposed to – and not on my schedule.   So in the meantime – all I can do is show up, shine my light – and breathe.

Shine on my friends.

Click HERE for more information on TACA – and how you can help.
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Good vs Bad – old ideas and finding my truth…

It happened a month or so before I finished my teacher training.

I was in class with one of my favorite teachers (and most certainly a mentor) – and I was trying to stabalize my shoulders in headstand. I started getting a little pain in my right shoulder and a panicky feeling in the bottom of my stomach.
She was encouraging me – giving me small assists – and I exploded – “I have a bad shoulder!” – and immediately came down.
Very gently – she sat down beside me – looked me straight in the eye and said “Don’t ever say anything about your body is ‘bad’ again.”

Those words really struck something deep within me – and I immediately nodded in response and sank into child’s pose….trying to hold back tears.
Her words really hit me like a ton of bricks.
My entire life – I have fought with self esteem issues – weight – and constantly not feeling “good enough…athletic enough…smart enough”.
I have told myself so many lies over the years – and based my self worth on numbers on a scale. I have certainly been guilty of looking at my body as “bad”. Where is the truth in any of that?

Yoga has really helped me to begin to find my truth and stabalize a little in so many ways. Because of my yoga practice and lifestyle, I have maintained a healthy weight for the past 4 years.
And when you are told as a 7 year old – that you are overweight – put on diets by your father – and made fun of for most of your childhood and teenage years for being the “fat” kid….this is a huge deal.

But I must add- that this has been (and will continue to be) – a journey. I wake up some days and feel like that 7 year old who was terrified to go outside and play for fear of being made fun of or judged. Thankfully – I have my yoga mat – amazing friends – and a spiritual life to help center me and bring me back to my truth.

During my teacher training – all of those old demons were really awakened – and the lies flooded my head again. “How can you be a yoga teacher if you don’t weigh XXX- no one will want to take your class.” “You aren’t a good yogi if you don’t……insert LIE here…..”
It was really hard – and I really struggled a lot in those 6 months with my view of me.

Since I have started teaching – there has begun to be a major healing for me.
I am finding freedom in learning to let go of what I “believe to be true” – vs. what is actually true.
Stepping outside of myself – teaching others to find their center – to breathe – to be OK in the moment with where they are right now – helps me more than I can ever explain.
I pray that I will have the opportunity to teach a student that their body is not “bad” -as my teacher did with me.
When you can have such a paradigm shift – it is life changing.

Will I have days where those “old ideas” pop up? Absolutely. Do I have to believe those lies? Absolutely not.

Hope this made sense to someone somewhere!

Jai Baghwan!
Sarah - age 7