Ten years ago, I walked into a yoga studio for the first time. And fell in love. I was at home and comfortable with myself in a way I had never felt before. My soul sang. The “type A” voice in my head shut up and listened. The voice of the teacher was clear and heard by every molecule of my body. I felt at peace for the first time in years.
I had been having panic attacks. Bad ones. The kind other people can see and feel. I was projecting energy in every direction. It had been getting worse for weeks and weeks and my friends were getting scared for me. They didn’t know how to help, what to say, what to do. I was at work when a phone call came in from a friend who was just back from Afghanistan. He heard the disconnect in my voice, the spaced out, stressed out, non-existence I had been disappearing into and he said these words to me: “Go to yoga. Don’t think about it. Don’t study it. Don’t analyze it. Pick a studio, today, now, while we are on the phone. Sign up and go. I’ll pay for it if I have to. Just go to yoga.”
I didn’t argue, I didn’t quibble. While we talked, I surfed the Internet and found a few studios. One was starting a new sixteen week session the following Saturday, I signed up.
I walked into the studio two days later wearing baggy shorts and a ratty tee shirt. It was all I had for “workout clothes.” The owner took one look at me and guided me to some pants I couldn’t afford and gently suggested that next time I wear something more like this. No judgement. Just guidance.
I walked into class with a rented mat, a jumble of nerves, and a whole lot of fear. The teacher came over, knelt down, helped me unroll my mat, introduced herself to me, Her name was Jana, and she welcomed me. In that way that goes beyond words. An opening of the heart. A caress that touches your soul. The voices in my head fell silent, smiled, and welcomed her back. By the second class in the session, I knew I wanted more. I wanted the ability to bring this same kind of peace to someone else.
We went to work learning the basics – four corners of the hands and feet, how to build a foundation. What the asana is called (in Sanskrit, thank you very much), how to move into the posture, proper alignment, how to breathe. She was the best ujjayi teacher I have had to this day. Normally, my inner reaction would have been to rush, to hurry, to ‘get it’ and move on. Something about this woman, this studio, this practice – Anusara if it’s important to anyone reading – made me pause and listen. I, was in heaven. I studied at this studio for a few more series, but the drive was quite long and took too much of my time. Created problems at home. Jana moved back to Florida (I think) and I never had that same teacher/student connection at that particular studio. But my connection to yoga has never died.
Even when my practice on the mat has been non-existent, my practice off the mat has deepened and grown. You see, the thing that gets missed a lot of times these days is that yoga isn’t an exercise program, it isn’t a ‘work out.’ It’s a connection. To self. To the bigger picture. To the inner and outer. To the world, the body, the mind, the spirit. To growth and improvement. To acceptance of limitations, but also the desire to move through them. Recognize them, embrace them, accept them. They are a part of you and are not to be feared. Some are to be overcome, but some just want to be heard. It can be a very deeply spiritual practice, yet it does not interfere with any religious practices you might already have (unless those practices aim to do harm to self or others).
Despite becoming popular in recent times in the west, yoga has a long history dating back thousands of years. Documented (written) history dates yoga between 5,000 to 10,000 years old, but yoga roots deep in oral tradition as well. Handed down through the ages and brought to the United States in 1893 by Swami Vivekananada through a speech to the World Parliament of Religions. Paramahansa Yogananada deepened our western curiosity in 1920 when Babaji sent him to “spread the message of oriya yoga to the West.” The 1950’s and 60’s saw a surge of yoga occur in California. The interest has continued to increase and now includes multiple variations of yoga being taught around the world.
And now, well – in September, after ten long years of on and off mat practice and study, I have finally committed to stepping onto that path which captivated me so many years ago. In September, I will join the ranks of those working on their 200 hour registered yoga teacher (RYT) training.
Why now? When I have so many other things going on? You may ask. Well …. because.
Because, for the first time, the class schedule works with my schedule.
Because, for the first time, I have the money in my budget to buy the books and take the classes without worrying if it is taking food off the table.
Because, by the time the classes start, I will have wrapped up three of my projects and have no (current) intention of taking on more. A little break will be needed, fo sho.
And because the universe is conspiring with me to make it happen.
My husband, son and I discussed everything as soon as I returned from the information session. We all agreed that I would do this. I don’t know who was more excited – them or me. I filled out my application and have it all ready to submit. I loaded up my Amazon and Audible carts with the books I need. Then I get an email from Audible. Most items in my wish list are on sale. Three of my required texts purchased for less than $8.00. Two of the books are coming from Amazon, total cost of all five books? $10.81. It’s a sign. I read it, took it’s advice, and now send back much gratitude.
Over the years it has seemed like there have been little stepping stones to this path. A new studio with a better schedule. A teacher I was particularly called to. A better paying job that would allow me to afford the tuition. Baby steps all of them. This is the first time all of the dots have lined up.
And so, with gratitude for the opportunity, I say “yes.” Wholeheartedly, “YES” … and Thank you. See you in September.
Do you have a dream? Something that peaked the interest of your soul? Either immediately or through practice? Is it a part of your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Until next time …
In Light and Love ~