VaniDevi says that yoga saved her life.
And her story of why she started practicing yoga is genuinely inspirational.
As a young woman in the US Army, she suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had all but given up on life, until she discovered yoga.
“I am so grateful I found yoga. Yoga saved me and gave me my life back.”
We sat down with this incredible woman to find out more.
How Yoga Saved My Life! An Interview With VaniDevi
Why did you decide to join the army?
By the age of 23, I had bought an idyllic house complete with a white picket fence, had a stable and well-paying job in the casino business, and was completely independent. From an outside perspective, my life looked fantastic, but something was missing, and I felt unfulfilled in my heart.
Then one day, I saw an ‘Army Strong’ television advertisement and was immediately inspired. Feelings of excitement and joy washed over me, and I was filled with determination to make it happen. At that time, the thought of getting into the Army brought a sense of hope back into my life.
So aged 27, I met with an Army recruiter and had the harsh reality check that to be accepted, I would need to lose a significant amount of weight and pass a test that included algebra, something it turned out I had forgotten entirely.
Soon after, my work let me go, which initially devastated me, although I soon began to realize it was the opportunity I needed to allow me the time I needed to work on these things.
I began preparation in earnest.
After almost a year of hard physical training to meet the weight requirement and re-learning algebra, I finally passed the tests and was accepted into the Army.
My father had been in the Army and warned me against it. But my mind was made up. Being in the Army was what I wanted to do.
My Dream Of Serving Came True!
The next step was six months of boot camp where they turned me into a soldier, and AIT, where they taught me how to do my job, was accepted into the military police corp.
After training, I was sent to Germany, where I would spend the next four years.
During my time in Germany, I endured severe traumatic events that led to severe PTSD, so the Army medically retired me and returned to the US.
What was life like when you returned home?
I returned to the United States at 32 years old, and it was a massive adjustment in all aspects of my life.
I went from being a soldier and living in a foreign country, to a civilian living with the effects of PTSD and learning how to deal with everyday life.
At this point, I was on so much medication that I saw and heard things that weren’t there.
I was in and out of psychiatric wards and couldn’t take care of my most basic survival needs.
I moved back in with my parents as I couldn’t function on my own. Even a seemingly small task like going to the store to get shampoo seemed impossible.
Every time I tried to leave the house, I would find myself standing at the door.
My body was unable to move, frozen with fear of what might happen to me.
I became an adult who could only leave the house if my mother came with me and held my hand because I was so scared of everything.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOGA?
I saw a therapist weekly and still on medication, but I felt numb and knew I couldn’t live that way.
I thought that I had no purpose in life and nothing to live for.
I didn’t know what to do. I began googling cures for PTSD and came across information about the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation.
I had practiced yoga but didn’t understand what it was really about and thought of it as just a form of exercise.
I saw videos of a woman helping veterans improve their quality of life through yoga and meditation. She has just returned from Yoga Teacher Training, and immediately I knew I had to go there.
I had no idea how I was going to make it happen. I just that was where I needed to be.
My First 200 hour YTT
Out of the blue, I received an unexpected cheque in the mail for an amount that exactly covered the tuition cost and my flight to the yoga teacher training. Once again, the universe was giving me a sign that this is what I needed to do.
Attending this Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course was one of both the hardest and most beautifully rewarding things I’ve ever done for myself.
Since returning home from Germany, my mind had been filed with questions – why everything had happened and why it had happened to me – I searched for answers.
By learning about the philosophy and yogic way of life, and practicing yoga every day, the answers to my questions came. I found a sense of peace I had thought impossible.
I learned that I needed to feel.
Because I have trauma, I had become so numb. I had previously felt like a robot. Learning to feel was a massive change for me.
It was a spiritual rollercoaster, and yet I received precisely what I needed.
After the month of training, I felt like I had a mission, a purpose, the will to want life, a desire to fight for myself.
Despite this, months after returning home, I had fallen back into the numbness and negative thoughts and mostly convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough to teach yoga. But this was conflicting as I loved yoga and everything it was doing for me.
I wanted yoga to be the focus of my life.
I knew that I had more work to do, and I should continue my education.
The 200-Hour + 300-Hour Life Transformation Yoga Teacher Training at Blue Osa
I decided that I wasn’t going to give up my dream of teaching people what I was so passionate about. I knew the potential practicing yoga offered and that if I continued the path of yoga, I would keep healing myself.
I also saw the bigger picture.
If I could heal myself, I would be able to help so many others.
Around a year after returning from my first yoga teacher training, I traveled to Costa Rica to attend another 200-hour one-month yoga teacher training with Blue Osa.
This training, with Yogi Aaron, had profound effects on me and completely changed my life.
After this training, I gained my independence back. I had the confidence to move out on my own.
I cultivated faith and belief in myself and began teaching classes.
I found my voice!
Yogi Aaron showed me how I could empower myself. I saw that the world needs what I have to offer.
He saw the potential in me and guided me so that I could see it as well.
I chose Blue Osa because Yogi Aaron was a man, and I recognized that I needed to have a positive example of a male in my life.
Yogi Aaron is a substantial positive male role model for me, and and continues to be.
As soon as I saw Yogi Aaron offered the 300-Hour YTT, I signed up.
This training helped me grow even more on my journey of healing and self-discovery.
What’s next for VaniDevi?
After completing 700 hours of yoga training, I feel ready to bring together everything I have learned.
I want to live my life purpose of helping other wounded warriors.
Now I see myself as a warrior goddess driven to thrive in life and with my powerful voice.
I will help others find and live the life of their calling!