Yoga helped her survive trauma

Against all odds

Yoga helped her survive trauma

Natasha Noel is an Instagram celebrity who can bend in ways you cannot imagine. She battled sexual abuse, depression and a major knee injury to emerge an inspiring, positive person.

Have faith. Know that you are not alone. Believe that whatever situation you are in, however horrible it is, you will survive to become a better version of you. And if you allow time to heal you, you will understand that everything happens for a reason.”

These lines summarise what 23-year-old Natasha Noel has learnt from her life so far. She has battled a troubled childhood, sexual abuse and a terrible knee injury to become one of the most popular yoginis on Instagram and an inspiration for youngsters the world over.

Traumatic childhood

Natasha lost her mother to suicide when she was just three-and-a-half years old. Even as a child, she blamed herself, and things took a nasty turn when she was sexually abused at the age of seven. To say that her childhood was traumatic would be an understatement. But through sheer resilience, she managed to complete her schooling from Jamnabai Narsee school and her degree in English literature from Sophia College.

When she was 17, she took to dance and trained in Jazz, Ballet and contemporary dance. “It saved me,” Natasha says. “It made me believe in myself again and feel like I was worth something. It was my catharsis. I would allow myself to feel all kinds of emotions during my practice and dance away the sadness, anger, lust, pain and all the other feelings that I had kept suppressing in me, thinking I needed to be strong,” she reminisces.

But fate turned against her as she had a major fall in her second year of college, hurting her knee. Ignoring medical advice to rest and recover cost her big. “When the doctor told me that I could never dance again, I felt like the love of my life was taken away from me. I was heartbroken and plunged into depression once again,” she recalls.

Solace in yoga

While Natasha was bedridden for a year-and-a-half, recovering from the injury, she came across the profiles of a few yoginis on Instagram. The strength and flexibility reflected in their pictures inspired her to emulate them. “I wanted to be strong. So I attempted to replicate some of the poses and found that I was quite flexible. But I was still depressed. That is when I started using the Internet to watched yoga tutorials and satsangs on YouTube. I read books by Osho and Swami Vivekananada. They gave me hope. After three months, I joined a yoga institute.”

Natasha got her formal training certificate from The Yoga Institute, Santacruz East, and went on to take up a second teacher’s training course in ashtanga vinyasa yoga from Mysuru and a Osho rose meditation teacher training course. Currently, Natasha teaches a special form of yoga, called the yoga-dance, with each class themed around a particular subject, in Mumbai.

How hard was it to learn yoga by herself? “It was mentally tiring. To make myself get up every day and go on the mat to exercise was hard. Meditating and doing pranayama was doubly hard as I had to sit still and pay attention to myself, and to me, that was scary. To lower my guard and be honest with myself was the biggest challenge,” she says.

Every day, Natasha posts videos or pictures of her practising asanas on Instagram with the main motive of reaching out to a wider audience and inspiring them. Helping people overcome their fears and body-related issues through yoga is her goal.

Life lessons

Natasha admits that she always engaged in people-pleasing to fill the void in her life. She remembers that her mother taught her to be humble and do things she’s passionate about. “She always told me, ‘Natasha, you can do whatever you want. But even if you want to be a sweeper, make sure you are the best sweeper in the world.’ I live by those words every day and it keeps me grounded.”

Natasha says victims of abuse must learn to talk about it. “I know you think it is shameful and I know you feel filthy, unwanted and unloveable. So you keep the secret like it’s an unfortunate truth that eats you from the inside. You have repressed the emotions that the slightest of triggers will bring out. All the negativity and trust issues will come in the way of all your relationships. But you need to get help.”

Therapy helped her overcome a lot of issues and not get stuck in the rut of insecurities and self-loathing, she admits.

Natasha is a firm believer of the fact that the world needs positivity and love for humanity to heal. “I always believed that I did not fit in this world, but then I realised that I was born to help change the world. My dream is to travel as far and wide as I can and spread light in whatever way possible,” she signs off.

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