I’m blessed to have three beautiful children and I laugh everyday… I love creating art, baking, cooking, writing, and yoga, I also love to sing but really suck.
How I got started.
My daughter, Alex, had been going to yoga for about three years, she had first tried it a camp, and loved the style of it, especially because she is extra flexible, even more than most kids. She had said to me right away that she thought I would like it too. I was wary; I didn’t consider myself to be flexible, nor peaceful enough for something as crunchy as yoga. I as well have rheumatoid arthritis, my diagnosis was new and I was afraid of my limitations. I always thanked her for the idea, and even spoke to her instructor about it at one point, but I was intimidated based solely on my own fears and never went.
I probably never would have gone if not trying to get my daughter out of a rut, and her own misgivings. She was home and bored in the summer of 2010; her initial plans hadn’t panned out. Life at home had not been easy lately. I had just stopped chemotherapy and was trying to be normal, though needed desperately to get the poison out of my system to get my energy back. Alex’s regular “teen” yoga classes were on hiatus for the summer, she went once to one of the regular classes and balked, she was shy. She told me the room was filled with hairy old men and stepford wives..haha. I knew she needed it for her psyche, so I suggested that maybe she’d feel more comfortable if I went with her?
I’ll never forget my first yoga class. It was a hot July day, a Monday. It was crowded in the yoga studio, Alex and I set up in the farthest reaches of the left corner of the room. The air was warm and smelled slightly of incense. I had no yoga clothes and wore my normal workout style of loose shorts and an oversized t-shirt. Next thing I know the instructor was speaking calmly in the front center of the room, everyone came to standing at the front of their mats and started chanting in Sanskrit, I hadn’t really done a thing yet, and already knew I was in over my head.
As with most yoga, we started with a warm up, with Sun Salutations, A and then B. I had no idea what I was doing and was just trying to hear the instructions as well as looking over at Alex to see the poses in action as I attempted to try them out. Unbeknownst to me, it was a mixed level led ashtanga half primary class. I almost fell over quite a few times, Alex was looking at me from time to time rather horrified that either I was going to fall on her or perhaps just the embarrassment of having to walk out of there acknowledging that she knew me and my flailing limbs. I was a complete mess, sweaty, off balance, and ready to give up right at the end of the standing pose series. The miracle of sitting on the floor did wonders for my labored breathing in the now hotter room from all the active bodies. I do not recall much of the seated poses that first day except that I noted to myself that if I ever survived this, that loose clothes are not conducive to attempting to stand on your head or breathe in any comfortable manner while bending. When we finished with dead man’s pose, I was completely spent and thought death might be nice.
I walked out of the studio with a huge new respect for my daughter on tremendously rubbery legs. I was bathed in sweat, and knew that I was going to be very sore the next day, but as weird as this may sound, with everything I didn’t know, and was not sure I would ever be capable of doing, I also had this sense of calm that had entered my whole being. I was chuckling about it to myself, like of course you’re calm, you have absolutely zero energy left, but in truth, as I said it, I felt a whole new energy already inside me. It did not seem possible that bending and twisting with controlled breathing in such massive and strenuous exertion could have brought me to such a peaceful and powerful place. I knew I needed to go back and try it again. I was hooked.
I had no idea at this point that I had taken Ashtanga Vinyasa. I knew so little I didn’t know there were different types beyond “regular” and super hot. This one was regular to the newbie that I was, my brother, Michael, was a huge fan of hot, aka Birkram, yoga so I called him to fill him in on what I had tried, and how lousy I was, but that I was obsessed with going back. He actually got it and encouraged me to continue despite the visualization I gave him of suffocating and choking on my sweaty, loose shirt as I tried to bend and touch my toes. He laughed with me and wished me luck. I had the bug, it was magical, and found more than just a new form of exercise. I found a new way to focus, mindfulness, health and renewed spirituality all on the confined space of a yoga mat.
Though I was always relatively fit, I completely transformed my body with yoga. However to me it was so much more, I was stronger not just physically but in my spirit as well. That would be the first thing someone who hasn’t seen me in a while would say. As they hear me talk, not that I’m any different, I’m just more obviously grounded and more at ease. I’m still fidgety as is my nature, but not nearly as obvious. Most importantly, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and think about things before answering anything. (Most of the time) I’ve been asked by friends if yoga is my new religion, or cult. I laugh, sometimes saying so what if it is? It’s all in how you view it; certainly it has changed my lifestyle. Every day is a day of practice, even if just taking five minutes to breathe and quiet my mind in gratitude.
I have found a community of contentment within the practice of yoga. I, as with many things in my life, like to delve deeper to gain better understanding and greater knowledge about my passions. I have always been naturally competitive with myself, but yoga has given me patience with it and allowed me to truly enjoy the practice for where I am each day. The body-mind connection is so much a part of the practice, and what I most want to share with others. I love the philosophy of starting with ahimsa. The tenets of not doing harm and forgiveness are so simple, yet enlightening. Though certainly not every moment, but I have been fortunate enough to have glimpses of dawning awareness during practice that have changed my perspective in such a positive way I can only sit and say thoughts of thanks as I smile. Yoga has become such a part of who I am and what I do, that learning about further aspects can only enhance my personal growth and what I can offer to others.
I love the idea of sharing the passion I have found. I know that my enthusiasm about it can only help myself and those in my life. I feel that gaining the knowledge of teaching yoga can bring my ability and desire to help others to a higher level. I have seen that in my practice with my instructors, and what each has brought to me. Yes, it is wonderful to get guidance, but it is phenomenal to have instruction given in such a compassionate non-competitive way. To share that gift is pure joy, I’m hopeful to be on the journey.