Yoga and what’s it to me…Part I
In 1996, I was 40 pounds overweight and unhappy. After sitting on the couch, pulling overnighters on a weekly basis for college, eating unhealthy foods and being with a rail thin partner who could eat whatever they wanted for 3 years straight, being called fat by my grandparents and waking up feeling bad about myself morning after morning. I needed to make a change. I was still going to college at Meramec and I was still working two jobs. I needed some PE credits to graduate and signed up for Hatha Yoga at school. Little did I know it would be a life long journey for me.
Walking in, I really did not know much about yoga. I did not know the spiritual aspects or the physical aspects. I knew was that I was going to stretch and it was from India and I always felt a connection to India and all things from India. Yoga for me was like that moment in the movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin where he snaps and finds the beat. It was a portal to the beginning of a whole new life for me, a journey of many steps over the course of 22 years now.
My first teacher was Gudula Behm, I believe she was Swedish. She was a tiny, blonde woman in her early 50’s while she was gentle, she was fierce. Not only flexible, but strong physically and mentally. There was a grace and a commanding presence to her. She was encouraging and friendly, but most importantly she was a genuine person. I knew that she really loved this thing called yoga.
The class I was in seemed to be a bunch of regulars. As in, they did yoga around town at different places and had taken classes with her before. I was the only newbie. I remember walking in and at 22, I was the youngest person there. The first poses I learned were Vriksasana (Tree pose), Bahdakonasana (butterfly pose) and corpse pose. We did a lot of twists, folding and shoulderstands. Our final for the class was to teach a 3 pose flow to the rest of the class. I chose a seated twist, a forward fold and cow’s head pose. I got an A in the class and took it again the next semester. I didn’t have an inkling of a clue where this journey would take me, but 22 years later, here I am.
I began to lose weight, I stuck with yoga doing VHS tapes and taking classes around town. In addition to yoga, I started taking. water aerobics, I was also the youngest oerson in class and the only one under 50. Before I knew it, I had lost 20 pounds! I also changed my diet. I cut out soda and began to eat healthier. The weight finally came off, so much in fact that my wedding dress ended up being too big on me on my big day!
Fast forward to 1998/1999, many months after my big day. The rest of my weight came off from depression. I had found out something terrible and was unable to do anything but barely function. I lost another 20 pounds and made it to an unhealthy 98 pounds. I took a look in the mirror one day and decided I had to do reclaim my life. So I moved out, got a haircut, a new job and eventually I drew up papers and got a divorce and my old name back.
Soon after, I started integrating yoga into my life again. For many years I took it around town at different places. I’ve gone through many different styles being hooked on power yoga from 2002ish til 2008ish. In 2008, I kind of stopped doing yoga for a few months to focus on my up and coming dance career and due to some emotional issues I was working out. Then the pain started to creep in my right hip. I would wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my right hip. I went to see a friend who was studying to be a chiropractor and it helped, but what really helped was integrating yoga back into my routine. Bye bye pain.
See yoga is amazing and wonderful if you can commit to a regular regimen even if it’s just once a week. But if you go all in and then stop, your body feels it and the pain comes back ten fold. So you really have to commit. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started getting into the mental, emotional and spiritual principles of yoga.
In January 2010, I went and had lunch with my Aunt and mentioned that I wanted to become a yoga instructor but how I did not have the money to pay for the tuition. Maybe jokingly she suggested that I post on MySpace or Facebook that I was looking for a private donor. I did. And I got a response. A legit, no ulterior motive response. Within a week, I had signed up for the next 200 hour teacher training with Jaime Sanchez at Urban Breath. What a journey it would be!
The training was once a month February through October for Friday through Sunday. It was challenging in every way possible. Physically, I was able, but there were a lot of poses I could not do, I was consistently humbled in the program. Mentally, it was way more reading than I had ever imagined also. A lot of food for thought in the materials we had to read, got me thinking about important things like existence as we know it, astral planes and energy in the body. As I studied and became more immersed in yoga philosophies, I also became more aware of my body and how I felt. Principles bcame integrated. I noticed physiological responses in my body to things like movies, music and people. I felt much more aware of how things made me feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
After ten long months, I finally graduated,but even my graduation would prove to be difficult for me as I was sick beyond belief. I had gotten the flu or a kidney infection. I had a high fever and sat shivering in the corner of the graduation. Too sick to enjoy or relish in my big accomplishment. But I did it, I had gone through all the training adn made it through depite everything going on in my personal and business life.
Fast forward another year or so, a break up from another unhealthy relationship, my home studio closing down so I converted my loft into the studio space that I today compose this story in. I live very simply in order to have the freedom of my lifestyle, but that is another story unto itself for another time.
Stay tuned for Part II…