Gabriel G.

Coming Back to the Breath: Yoga helps a young athlete accept his new form.
I came to Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training because I want to share yoga with unique populations that can really benefit from it.

I’ve been around yoga all my life. My mom does yoga and had an Ayurvedic clinic in Kerala, India, for eight years, and my grandmother has been a certified yoga teacher for 30 years. When I was really young, I was homeschooled for a few years, and one of my classes was yoga.

So, after my accident in 2009, yoga was one of the ways I came back to myself. I was 19 when I fell off the back of a motorcycle and was run over by a truck. Both my legs were amputated above the knee. For a long time, I didn’t want to be defined by the shape of my body, post-accident. I was shell-shocked in this new form. But it was imperative for me to continue to believe that I could do physical things, so I started to practice a little bit of yoga, and, day by day, it got easier.

Yoga has helped me to accept my body the way it is now, even though it’s not always easy. When you’re aware of how your body feels and how it works, you’re so much more in touch with yourself and your life. Sometimes I still fall into dark places, but I always come back to listening to my breath and staying in tune with my body. Yoga has helped me face some of what I was running away from. When you’re meditating and breathing, there’s nowhere to run to.

I came to Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training because I want to share yoga with unique populations that can really benefit from it—particularly at-risk teenagers and people with disabilities. I’ve gone into hospitals and spoken to kids who have been injured and told them, “You still have whatever life you want, you just have to go for it.” Everyone has different things they can and can’t do, and it’s important that we don’t pigeonhole ourselves. I know from my own experience how immensely yoga has affected my life and allowed me to find happiness.

The community aspect of the training was the single most inspiring thing to me. I was blown away by the compassion, love, and vulnerable tenderness with which everyone approached their practice. People can be judgmental, but here we all checked out egos and judgments at the door.

I learned how to adapt postures I had never figured out how to do on my own, and I came back into my body even more. I was able to feel a sense of appreciation that I once had my legs, and also an acceptance that they’re gone. I know now that, if I set my mind to it, there’s nothing I can’t figure out how to accomplish or overcome.

—Gabriel G., Rosemont, New Jersey