Everyone has their own story as to what brought them to yoga. Here is mine.
I began my asana practice sometime near the end of 2010. I was feeling lost. My life had no purpose. I was taking a ridiculous amount of diazepam every single day to suppress the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Clearly, this was a problem. I often felt like my heart was racing uncontrollably and even the littlest of things would send a surge in stress hormones creating a feeling of being “on edge” and incredibly jumpy. I was in my own prison.
I knew I couldn’t go on this way. My symptoms were getting worse instead of better. I didn’t want to simply masque the symptoms with more drugs given the horrible side effects of pharmaceuticals. I wanted to see if there was a way I could get better on my own, without drugs. Sometimes pharmaceutical are necessary, but I wanted to see if there was something, some way I could heal in a more holistic way.
I started reading self-help books. I began reading about yoga and meditation and how helpful these practices were for so many people. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just try, so I did. I began sitting quietly as instructed by my books and quickly realized this was no easy task. The thoughts in my mind just kept coming. In fact, it felt like the more I tried to still the mind, the more thoughts that would show up and clutter it. It wasn’t fun. AT ALL.
Then I read something interesting. Someone was talking about their experience with meditation and how awful it was at first. They said that yoga was incredibly helpful, because the physical postures gave them something to focus on so that the mind could finally start to quiet down. They said that practicing yoga helped them become a better meditator, that they learned how to more successfully clear the clutter from the mind.
And so it began.
I found some short, 30-minute vinyasa flow classes on cable. I started recording them with my DVR and practicing first thing in the morning, a few days a week. The classes were actually about 20-minutes long after commercials and very, VERY beginner. Perfect for me! After a while I realized I wanted more. I started googling yoga and found some online classes. Soon, my 20 to 30-minute practices became 40. About six months after beginning my yoga journey I found the courage to try an intermediate level class. I was thrilled to find that there were several modifications and variations to the poses, making them more accessible to my tight body. It wasn’t long before I was practicing almost every day, at least 45-minutes to an hour long every time.
My home practice was strong. I stayed true to my mat for years, and even found myself doing more difficult poses that I never dreamed I’d ever do. More than that, I found myself growing stronger – physically, but also mentally. I didn’t let things bother me as much. If someone was rude or mean to me, I told myself that perhaps their mood had nothing to do with me. I took myself out of the equation. I learned to feel compassion for those people. Maybe something truly awful happened to them and this was the only way they knew how to deal with it at that moment.
I began to feel more confident and less scared. I started to feel a connection to myself again – a connection to the planet and Universe. I began to feel like I had a purpose – I wasn’t totally sure what it was at that point, but I knew I was here for a reason.
I started practicing in a studio for the very first time in January of 2016. I was petrified at first. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought everyone would be so much further along in their practice than I was. I felt insecure again, worried, scared. But what I found was a whole new world of AWESOMENESS. At first, the thought of practicing in a room full of strangers created that horrible sense of panic in me. But then class started. And I quickly realized that my home practice WAS strong, that I was capable, I belonged there just as much as anyone else did. I also realized that yoga, unlike past experiences that I’ve had in fitness centers, was not about competition. There is no judgement in yoga. In fact, I didn’t even feel like anyone was looking at me. Everyone was focused on their own practice, they were in their own head, their own space. But I knew the other people were there. Because I felt them. I felt the energy of every single one of them in the room. And it was magnificent. It was as if I was being lifted up, encouraged by every single person in there – people I’ve never seen nor met before in my life.
The small studio where I started my practice at ended up closing, so I joined a larger one, YogaWorks. I had no idea how much this decision would change my life. Yoga had such an impact on my life that I now wanted to take a teacher training. I quickly looked to see which trainings were available at YogaWorks and signed up as fast as I could. I was worried my practice wasn’t strong enough to be accepted into a teacher training, but my teacher at the time and 200-hour trainer assured me that it was.
I spent three months learning from two of the best YogaWorks instructors in Los Angeles (and there are lots!). It was an experience I will never forget. It didn’t take long for me to decide that this was my path, that yoga was my purpose. I graduated the 200-hour teacher training at YogaWorks in June of 2017 under the instruction of David Lynch and Joe Kara. And finished my 500-hour certification at YogaWorks in February of 2018 with Gigi Snyder as my mentor. It has been a truly blessed experience.
I am passionate about this practice. I am passionate about helping others learn that yoga truly is for everyone – no matter what age, size, flexibility – none of that matters. You can even do yoga in a chair! If you would’ve asked me as a 20-something young girl, graduating from University with a bachelor’s in biomedical science, “what are you going to be doing in 20 years?” Teaching yoga would never have left my lips. But I am a different person now. And I am grateful for all the changes that I have gone through, good and bad. They are what made me into the person I am today, the person with a passion and a purpose. I have found my light. I feel my light. And even on the darkest of nights, I will always have that light inside of me.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.