Path to Yoga
I’d been flitting from yoga studio to yoga studio since my first class in 2001. My best friend at the time said to me, “You have to try this thing that I did last week and it’s amazing. It’s called Yoga!” She dragged me up a flight of stairs to a second floor space in Montclair, NJ, I paid my fee, borrowed a mat, and set myself up in the back. I wasn’t very physically active or even open to new things but she seemed excited so I was, too. To be honest, I don’t remember much about that first class but only that I left feeling what I imagined it felt like to be high. Something inside me shifted after that class but I wouldn’t be drawn to following that feeling until many years later. After that, I tried everything from Bikram, hatha, yin, Iyengar, Baptiste, anusara, Kundalini – you name it, I’ve practiced it. A lot of times I could only afford community classes and attended sporadically but I kept going back; I wasn’t sure why but something was bringing me to the mat time and time again. Fast forward 15 years and I just completed a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. My love of yoga couldn’t be contained so I finally dove in and did it! And now I can’t wait to begin share YOGA!
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Love and Teaching
Once I started practicing regularly and learning about the postures, it made sense to me that I was always drawn to heart opening poses. While it might make more sense to have shied away from those poses that exposed and opened me up, I felt safe on the mat, it was a little rubber rectangle island. One of my favorite poses is still Urdhva Dhanurasana and cues that resonate with me the most are about lifting and opening the heart. I look forward to sequencing classes towards intentions or themes of love and kindness.
As a writer, I know how powerful words can be. My favorite yoga classes have been ones where the teacher has read from a book or store at some point during class. Or maybe starting class with a story, even a personal one, has resonated with my practice. I collect quotes, stories, passages, and am constantly highlighting or saving words that I think would be important for others to hear, too. Even the words we use to cue people into poses can be so powerful: “Inhale love, exhale fear.” Coming back to the word “love” constantly throughout a practice can be so amazing. There are so many ways to incorporate what I’ve learned into teaching but I know I have to balance it with some light heartedness, too. Yoga can and should be fun. I think I’ll need to work on balancing the more serious classes with lighter energy but, of course, this will only come with time and reading the energy in the room. For now, it’s fun to think of all the ways to infuse a room with love and more love.
Everyone has different struggles but it benefits no one to compare the amount of suffering or sadness in a situation because hurts just hurts. Knowing the profound impact Yoga has had on me, I hope to share that with others. I hope that through my own reflection and practice, my instruction will allow students to feel safe and find the light and love within themselves and in others. I know that if they just keep coming to the mat, transformation will happen. Every inhale and exhale moves the mist to expose the purest form of unconditional love and works towards clearing years of fear we’ve been taught to practice. If your thoughts become your actions and your words become your reality, it’s time to live a new reality; one not in fear or darkness but in love and in light.
Coming to the mat is a miracle, “and that’s what a miracle is: a part of the mists, a shift in perceptions, a return to love” (xxiv) and “through the miraculous power of pure love, we let go our past history in any area and begin again” (84). Asana has allowed me to love again and again and again. Yoga has allowed me to deepen that love within myself and with others. “Love only gives rise to more love” (167) and I am choosing love. Every moment is a new opportunity to choose love above all else. I know that when someone steps on a mat, they are choosing love. I can’t believe that one day I am going to get to share that experience with someone.