Writing about achieving balance is a very special thing for me because I was very unbalanced growing up. I had been lost in a world of drugs, anger and self-loathing for the 8 years before it ended.
When I was 22, some friends and I were finishing off a four-day bender with a game of strip poker when, on a pee break, I happened to catch my reflection in the mirror. I looked over my body and I was not happy with what I had become. My eyes were baggy; my skin was pale and sickly. I had no definition and very little muscle content. Mentally, I had become dependent on substances for confidence, social interaction and to numb feelings of anger and self-hate. In that moment, I decided to take my body and mind back and make them a temple.
The next morning, I dumped all my stash and went looking for something to heal my physical, mental and spiritual self. After some searching, I found Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing native to Thailand. It provided the healing I needed.
On a new path, I traveled to Thailand to continue my Muay Thai education. After seeing my devotion, my stay was sponsored by my teacher. Room, board and training were exchanged for chores and fight purses for the next 14 months.
I then traveled to Japan to work for a year — I wanted to have a bit of cash to fall back on before heading back to Thailand. But I met my wife there and all plans of returning to Thailand were halted. We lived in Japan for 3 years. In that time, I injured myself in training and was told by doctors to quit martial arts. I had herniated 3 discs just below my skull and faced the chance of permanent paralysis. I had shooting pain running through my arm and shoulder. But I continued to work and train my physical self.
When the big earthquake hit in 2011, Japan suffered badly. Though we did our best to put our lives back together, the radiation leaking from the power plant had a large effect on both land and water. Electricity and water bills went up. Food and water safety was constantly compromised... It was time to go.
In Canada, we had to focus on new careers. I took up culinary and holistic nutrition, as this meshed with my personal training, and I started yoga classes as an alternative to physical therapy. I had read articles about yoga and healing, but I also found it appealing because of its focus on body, mind and spirit. After 10 months of yoga, I felt no pain in my neck, arms and back. Yoga had healed me.
I returned to Muay Thai and decided to add yoga to my practice. Muay Thai is physical training with a focus on mental training and yoga is mental training with a focus on physical training — Ying and Yang.
After looking at a few courses, the 200-hour At-Home and Live-In Teacher Training offered by Violet Pasztor, CYA’s founder, stood out as superior. The 2 weeks I spent with Violet were an eye opener. Not only did she give me the training I needed to become a confident yoga teacher, but she also encouraged my union of the martial arts with yoga. She helped me refine my ideas, which have helped me in practice and in business. The experience was enriching and I still keep in contact with Violet, sharing ideas and asking guidance.
Today, I have returned to Thailand and restarted my fight career. I also teach Muay Thai, yoga, nutrition and culinary lessons to regular people, athletes and yogis/yoginis who are looking for balance.
Yoga has improved all aspects of my life and it will forever be part of my own personal training. When I step into the ring, I, like Arjuna, prepare for battle. I yoke my emotions and senses and ready myself for duty.