After my first yoga class with Abbey Morris, for the first time in my life, I felt at home in my body. I felt like nothing was wrong with my shape, size or abilities. I felt like there was nothing that needed fixing. That it was just me with me, and that I was home.
Hi. I’m Samantha. I go by Sam and use she/her pronouns. I like to describe myself as someone who is in recovery from mental illness, alcohol abuse, defining my life by others’ rules and expectations, and from hating myself. As a creative person living with Borderline Personality Disorder, my emotions are huge, and I feel them all.
So it was a genuine surprise for me to feel this ‘at home’ feeling. Where had this feeling BEEN all my life?! The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the playlist was playing, the incense was burning (not the gross kind), the water was rippling, the ducks were swimming, and as she told us to ‘root to rise’ one last time, I rose up and felt… absolutely infinite. What the heck was this high, and how could I get more of it?!?! I felt like anything was possible. How did I get all of this goodness from ONE class?!
I blame it on this: having been told in 1000 different ways, from early childhood to adulthood and everywhere in between, not to trust myself. And suddenly, someone (cough * Abbey* cough) so in tune with themselves and their energy, was able to literally energetically hold my hand to a state of peace I could not describe if I tried (this is me trying).
Abbey did not know me. She had no idea just how disconnected I was from my soul, my heart and my body when we met. I had actually stumbled upon her at random - and by stumbled upon her, I mean two of my friends signed up for this yoga book club thing and I thought to myself, “That sounds cool, I’m going to join too!” and I just decided to join whether they liked it or not. I think I registered maybe a week before it started? Right on time, the universe might say. She did not know how instrumental she would become in my wellness journey. But I’m not here to be sappy, y’all, I have a point, I promise.
Abbey doesn’t just teach us to breathe, to hold postures, to work through the discomfort and the burn, and to be still. Her yoga experience - because to me it is a FULL experience, not just a practice or a class - turns the volume down on the chatter of the outside world, and the volume WAY up on our internal radio that often gets ignored. And when we can listen to our radio and truly tune into it, we’re home. And that is what I keep going back for. One of Abbey’s true gifts is bringing people closer to themselves, and as a person in recovery, receiving that gift over and over again through her practice has been invaluable. Her yoga experiences have taught me that in all of the chaos of the world, the only place we need to look for peace and love is inside of ourselves. And when we can do that, we’re home.
Samantha Marchionda is a Niagara-based singer, theatre performer, mental health advocate and entrepreneur. Her work focuses on normalizing discussions about mental illness, addiction and recovery, and empowering people to be their own best resource through one-on-one consulting, workshops, and speaking engagements.
Her latest one-woman show and work in development, Subject to Change, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icwXv_va56I