Seane Corn teaches yoga at the Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California. She is the National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS, and co-founder of "Off the Mat, Into the World."
She grew up in New Jersey and from the age of 11, she had suffered from an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the interview she explains how the practicalities and power of yoga is a healing force for in dealing with her OCD and helps her face the darkness within herself and the world.
The following excerpts are from the interview with Krista Tippett, a link below will take you to her website where you can listen to the full interview.
Ms. Corn: "When I was around 19 was the first time that a doctor had explained to me what it is that I had. Before then, I thought it was an interesting quirk. So did my family. I was obsessed with even numbers: four and eight. And I'd have to touch things in certain numbers: blink, swallow. If I walked into a wall, I'd have to walk in on the other side. And depending on my anxiety level, my obsession for balance became greater or less than. And it was also very much associated with death. I always felt that if I did things in certain numbers, I could prevent the death or dying of somebody around me that I loved. So by keeping my world in order, I can control bad things from happening. This wasn't conscious; I figured this out way later. It was just an interesting little survival skill that a kid out of balance created."
Ms. Tippett: "Yeah. I mean, it's kind of interesting, interesting only because you found such healing. That yoga is, I mean, one element of yoga is about balance and in fact you had this disordered relationship, this very compulsive, anxious pursuit of balance in that disease."
Ms. Corn: "Well, I didn't know how bad my OCD was until my first yoga class."
Ms. Tippett: "Really?"
Ms. Corn: "Because I remember being in one of my first downward dogs and I looked at my hands and I noticed that one hand was a fraction of an inch further forward than the other, yet my shoulders were balanced. And I didn't understand, how do I get my hands to match but then my shoulders would be out of balance. And my heart started to race and I was, for the first time, really critically aware that both sides of the body aren't exactly the same. And the teacher said something in that class that was really life-changing for me. He said, "Breathe and everything changes." And what that meant for me was that as the anxiety came up, which it was, because I couldn't get my body in the right alignment, I just kept breathing deeply. And it was a sensation. Anxiety is a feeling. It's a sensation within the body. The deeper I breathed the more that started to pass, and it just became something else. And I thought, "Wow. I wonder if when anxiety shows up in my life if I can actually do the same thing, if I can just stay present and breathe and trust that it will change."
"The first time that yoga had a real impact on me was I was still living in New York. I remember the day. It was snowing. I had just finished a yoga class, and I was walking back to my apartment. And I had this really weird feeling in my heart, in my body, and everything. And I stopped because I was trying to identify, like, what it was that I was feeling. And I realized that I was happy. And, I mean, it was such an odd moment because I was young, prior to that class I was confused. I was with a guy at the time; I didn't know if I should stay with him, if I should move to L.A. You know, like any young person, I was just in the middle of my own little personal drama and basically lived each day thriving on that drama and was pretty miserable. I just had this sense that everything was unfolding, that I was in something that was bigger than I could possibly define. It was just such an odd little moment, and I thought to myself, "What was different? What changed?" And the only thing that was different was the fact that I took this yoga class. The seeds had been planted; it just hadn't awoken, and for whatever reason, that day I was ready to receive it."
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