It all starts with the first Down Dog. The first Child’s pose. The first time you close your eyes and notice the rising and falling of your chest. The first time you begin to shed the tension you’ve carried walking around in this human form, chasing happiness, and running from pain.
This is yoga.
I originally came to yoga as a workout. I’d been a competitive long-distance runner in my teens and early twenties. My mid-twenties to early thirties I obsessed over my body something I’d done since I could remember mirroring my mother and grandmother who were always “trying to lose weight.” I punished myself in the gym and still never felt pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough. At 34 my body gave out and mentally I shattered.
A chiropractor took an ex-ray, looked me square in the eyes and said, “If you keep this up you will be lucky to walk.” He pointed to the narrowing of my lower spine-stenosis. “Were you in an accident at any point in your life?” I had no real answer to this. A physical accident? No. Trauma? Yes.
I thought if I can stretch my body maybe I could still run or at least hit the weights and my beloved Spin class. I took my first yoga class at LA Fitness, found out about a local studio and signed up for an unlimited pass. I took hot classes, gentle classes, yin classes, restorative classes.
Gradually, I no longer felt the need to punish my body. Silent tears ran down my cheeks a few months in as I laid still in Yin, fighting every fiber of my being not to fidget and relax into my bolster. Things began breaking apart inside of me. I stopped running from myself, my life, my past for the first time in twenty years.
I’ve practiced for about five years and have a daily practice both on and off the mat. Yoga has become so much more than a set of postures, shapes to me. It healed me and continues to heal me. It is why I became a yoga teacher.
Looking into my students’ eyes and seeing the look of calm as I bow to them in Namaste fills me with joy because I know if they follow this path they too will feel a deep sense of contentment and joy. I realize this is my purpose, what I’m called to do in this life.