Making the leap back into yoga

Ken Appleby at Breathing Room Yoga in Cedar Rapids. — Photo by Jav Ducker.

My journey with yoga started a few years ago. Initially, it was intended to help me cope with my anxiety and depression. Most recently, it’s been an amazing tool that assisted me in finding security in myself during my transition.

I came to the realization last year that I needed to make changes with my body to become my true self. So in November 2017, I began hormone replacement therapy, a weekly injection of testosterone. Then, in January, I had a double mastectomy; this is known in the trans community as top surgery. The changes that have come with testosterone have been immense. My voice has dropped significantly, I have more body hair and my body itself has changed shape. I’m stronger and so much more confident in myself.

That being said, learning to love myself has not been an easy feat. It’s been a long road, but the days of gender dysphoria and personal body shaming are behind me. Yoga gave me that breakthrough. After my operation I couldn’t practice for six whole weeks! While I was pleased with the results, I wasn’t content with where I was physically. I hadn’t been active in well over a month. I had gained weight and was struggling with post-op depression. The very first day that my exercise restriction was lifted I began a 30-day challenge to kick off my overall wellness and emotional healing.

“Everything was OK. I was good. I was me.”

After that, I made the leap. I added a hot class to my weekly routine.

Everyone knows how roasty and damp you become while in those studios. You can’t help but want to strip your clothes! Same went for me: I longed to take my shirt off during class. This was a goal of mine. But I was intimidated by the chiseled tan dudes in snug pants.

I began to spiral. I felt defeated as I drove away from the studio that evening. I had missed my moment to be authentic and feel free.

Alas, the following week, I returned. Anxious and fearful of letting myself down again, I threw my mat on the floor in the back. I glanced around and noticed people of all shapes and sizes, men and women. The temperature began to rise as we started to flow through our Sun Salutations. I tried to talk myself up, You got this, you got this!

As I moved into Down Dog, I spotted a curvy man who had pulled off his tank top — no shame and completely comfortable in his own body. What I wanted for myself. And with my heart in my throat, I did it. I took my top off, exposing my 10-inch scars in all their glory. Easy to say it was a milestone in my life which I will never forget. And what I feared never happened. Not one weird glance or muffled whisper. Everything was OK. I was good. I was me.

I am me.

Hi, my name is Ken, and I am a non-binary transgender person.

Ken’s home studio is the Breathing Room in Cedar Rapids. They trained there in 2016 with Megan Robertson of Muddy Feet Yoga and received their 200 hour YTT. Ken has been teaching 1.5 years. Aside from yoga, Ken is passionate about gardening and dog rescue.


Leave a Reply