“What made you get into yoga?”

   I’ve been asked this enough times that I’ve finally developed an answer that isn’t too esoteric and turns people off, nor does it downgrade yoga to a set of exercises. I recently shared with someone that I had always been drawn to yoga, even when I didn’t know anything about it. After purchasing a Rodney Yee Power Yoga VCR tape (that’s how long ago it was!), I tried it out a few times, but thought that he moved too fast. Hence, Power Yoga. It was about that time that I might have discovered, if I was paying enough attention, that I’m the type of person who performs, and learns, best when they are in front of a teacher. I took one online class for school, and was not a nice person every time I had to log in and get an assignment and then upload the assignment. Nothing against technology. It has its place, which is growing in nearly every aspect of our lives. Like the online class, I struggled with putting in the tape and “doing” yoga.

   A few years drifted by and I was consumed with other goings-on in my life, until I met someone who suggested I go to her yoga studio for an introductory class. I did. I liked it. I returned for a handful of other classes and a bunch of the workshops the studio offered. Then I moved, and the distance was too great to continue with that studio. A few more years later, and I found myself living very close to another yoga studio. I went on a Friday morning, as it was summer and I was out of school. I was hooked. The philosophy focus at the beginning of the class, the clear instructions of how to move the body to get into, or close to, the shape, the absolute positive energy of the person at the front desk, the friendliness of my classmates, and the wonderful greeting from the instructor, who also thanked me for attending the class and asked if I had any questions all made for an incredible experience. I truly had found, on more levels than I could name at that time, my home.

   I had taken a couple of other classes and found two teachers for whom I would cancel a lunch date, skip seeing a movie, and fight traffic in order to attend their classes. The flexibility and strength that I gained in my physical body was a by-product. I came, really, for the talk at the beginning. Ideas such as, “Stay out of the mind and rest in the sensations of the body”, “Breathe. The breath is always there for you”, “That part of us that was here before our physical body, and will be here when it fades away”. The readings from Rumi, the Tao Te Ching, the Sutras, seemed to speak directly to me. I knew the studio had a teacher trainer program, but what did I want with that? I wasn’t good enough at yoga, had physical issues, and felt that I had just begun my love affair with yoga’s teachings. I had gained much clarity in attending 12-step meetings, and so much of what yoga offered paralleled what made sense to me through this other path.

   I spent an entire year believing I could relocate to California, find a great teaching job by the ocean, and live happily ever after. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that a geographical move would solve all of life’s problems. Though I interviewed for a great position, I wasn’t offered the job. It was on the cusp of thousands of California teachers being laid off, and so most of them were shuffled around and filled positions that I was qualified for. That put off my thoughts of, “Maybe I can do the Advanced Studies and Teacher Training Program,” for a year. By October of 2008, I had resigned myself to remaining in the Valley, and that I had to do something with my life. I asked my favorite teacher if having back issues would keep me from completing the Teacher Training program. She assured me it would not, and encouraged me to at least attend the informational meeting.

   I was excited that my mare was due to foal in the spring, and a friend had told me, “You’ll be too busy with the baby horse. How will you find time to go through yet another teaching program?” I agreed, and was nearly talked out of going to the meeting, but decided I’d go anyway. I did, and though nothing happened at the meeting to sway my decision, I signed up for the program. Like nearly everyone who introduced themselves on February 6, 2009, I was there for the transformation that the program offered. Of course we’d learn about how to teach yoga, but I wanted to be different. I wanted to transform into something I thought was more acceptable.

   I never missed a Friday night or a weekend intensive. I turned in all of my written assignments on time, and completed everything I needed to do, including redoing tests! I began to attend workshops, as that was part of the requirements for submitting to Yoga Alliance for yoga certification. I wasn’t about to spend a year of my life learning how to be someone different and then not get the certificate that said I did the training! By October, I was squeezing in observation hours and was beginning to offer free yoga sessions to my friends to complete my 100 student teaching hours. I met with my mentor teacher a few times who helped to clear up asana questions I had, as well as clarify philosophy misconceptions that popped into my head.

   Do I understand everything? No. Are there postures that remain challenging for me? Yes. Do I enjoy leading others through an asana practice as well as discussing philosophy with them? Absolutely. And has there been a transformation in me, have I “changed” into something that I like better? Transformation, without a doubt. I’m still me, just more . . . patient, peaceful, willing, energetic, creative, allowing, accepting, loving of myself and others. Are there still days when I cry or get angry? Sure. But the swing doesn’t last as long, and it is more productive because I understand that it needs to happen, and I allow it instead of denying or stuffing it. This training has cemented within me the desire to live more harmoniously, more consciously. 

   So, my response to, “What made you get into yoga?” would be a shrug of my shoulders. A calling, a push, a draw. A better answer would be, “I continue using the many tools and techniques of yoga because I enjoy life more when I live it artfully.” And artful living just sets up opportunities to see the Divine in everything. Why do I wish to teach yoga? I could not possibly keep this to myself!! At the end of the training, I compiled a project that includes 25 poems, and suggestions for use, titled, Yogis All: A Journey of Transformation Volume I. You can view a couple of poems on my web site as well as order the project at www.myjoyenterprises.com I’m in the middle of upgrading my web site, so if you don’t see it right away, check back in a week or so. Namaste.