My first yoga class was when I was eighteen at the YMCA in the town I grew up in. My sister was a membership and for $5 she took me to a yoga class that they provided. I remember entering the room not knowing anything about yoga, but assuming I’d be good at it because of my gymnastics background. Little did I know my ego was huge! She showed us some breathing exercises to increase our oxygen intake throughout our practice. We placed our hands in weird positions and closed one nostril at a time while breathing in and out of the open one. I felt so uncomfortable and silly doing these techniques. After that we began the practice. I remember wanting to come out of every pose that we held longer than fifteen seconds. My muscles hadn’t been used in such weird ways in several years since I had quite gymnastics. I was being contorted and reconfigured in ways I thought I could still bend in. Although my ego told me I could do it easily, my body quickly disagreed. After the practice was over and my body was sore, we ended the class my saying om aloud. The whole room vibrated with the audible sound of the universe. Instead of appreciating the beauty that the randomness of the tines created, I felt like I was in a cult. Even though I was freaked out by that first class something drew me back, so I went to another class there. After my second class I thought about becoming a yoga teacher.
My practice since then has taken many different forms. I have done dynamic poses and arm balances transforming into the aesthetics of my practice and the flows that I made up, all of which I videotaped from home and mostly outside. Once I got a shoulder injury my practice became very passive and restorative for several months avoiding sun salutations and most shoulder related poses in a yoga class at school. This was a time of deep stretching and balancing. And now my practice is powerful, sweaty, and the most consistent it’s been in a while at a studio. I have traded cleaning for classes and benefited from the education of an instructor. I continue to struggle with a home practice, but I think videotaping will get my inspiration back.
In the past few months I have really started taking my practice seriously. I enrolled myself in a yoga teacher training and have learned more from my training in one month than in the five years of my prior practice. I have learned patience, focus, philosophy, alignment and have learned to access meditation in my daily life. I have recently learned how to listen more closely to my body, connecting my mind and body through my breath. I have learned how to focus through drishti, or gaze, and truly find flow through my practice. I have become part of a community of people who share the same love for keeping their minds and bodies healthy and clear of blockage. Yoga is so personal for each and every person. There is no right way of doing any sequence or pose. It’s about learning your body, your breath, settling your mind and becoming present. I have learned that it is not about how flexible you are or how strong you are. It’s about your willingness to come to the mat each day with an open mind and no expectations. To let your practice guide you.
In three short months I will be a certified teacher, sharing my passion and knowledge with as many people as I can. I will meet new souls, help people access their bodies in ways they never imagines, and maybe help some break down emotional walls through my teaching. Emotional release is very common through asana. When the body is physically released, old build up emotions are accessed and released as well. Many people cry at the end of their practice because of an intense physical and emotional release. The healing powers of yoga is not only physical but mental and emotional. I can’t wait to lead retreats locally and around the world and share with as many people as I can.
I have recently come into the practice of meditation. Before I was always extremely intimidated by the idea of sitting still for over thirty minutes, of pushing all thoughts out, and going to ‘another place’. I have learned that this is only one way to meditate and that there are other, more approachable ways to begin meditation. I found that I prefer guided meditations which you can find using the Insight app, because it reminds me to stay present.
The thing I love most about yoga is that it is a practice. There is no end goal or destination. The goal is the journey and the path that you’re on in any given moment. Your practice changes day to day, which is a great reminder that life changes day to day and that the only constant is change.
The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you. Namaste