Nothing great happens overnight...
What is Yoga?
The Sanskrit noun yoga translates to (and is cognate with) English "yoke". It is derived from the root yuj "to attach, join, harness, yoke". The origins of yoga are a matter of debate. Pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500–200 BCE. Yoga has been studied and may be recommended to promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve some medical conditions. Yoga is considered to be a low-impact activity that can provide the same benefits as "any well-designed exercise program, increasing general health and stamina, reducing stress, and improving those conditions brought about by sedentary lifestyles".
I attended my first yoga class at the request of a friend. I didn't know if I liked it or not, honestly. I felt good but I also felt like a fool because I couldn't do it. It's yoga, I mean seriously how hard could it be? "All you do is stretch" Haha.
I continued to attend classes in the studio every once in a while and developed a personal practice. That's when I started researching yoga. The first book I bought was "The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar." I bought the book thinking it would teach me how to physically do yoga. I was completely mind-blown when I discovered that the physical practice was only a small portion of what yoga really was.
Yoga is about a mind-body connection. It's about becoming aware of what's going on inside. Accepting your flaws and strengths equally. Trying to be a good person, everyday. Knowing that it's not selfish to give yourself some time or tell other's no. Clearing the mind while working out all the kinks. It's about being exactly where you are today and being ok with it. It's about breathing.
Before I started doing yoga, I was a lot of things that I was aware of and a hell of a lot more that I wasn't so aware of (or should I say, ignored). I hardly ever shared how I was feeling with anyone, people knew what was going on but I never would share how bad it was hurting me. My miscarriages, my divorce, deaths of loved ones; I put on this front that I was strong and that I could handle it but really, it would eat me alive. I also acted like I didn't care when other's hurt me and I was quick to write you off like you never existed. Most of all, I was broken, tired, hurt, afraid, closed off, and insecure. I was going through the motions of life with this idea that if I hadn't already done it, it couldn't happen at this point. I drank when I was upset, I drank a lot when I was upset. I had all these dreams and ideas and always thought "You can't do that" or "That will never happen".
I truly believe that I developed my practice exactly when I needed to. I don't know if I would have been open to embrace the feelings that yoga brings to the surface. Up until that point, I was so unhappy and confused that I would have run from the idea of dealing with my feelings. I knew I needed a change and I knew that I was meant for something more, I just didn't know what it was.
"You don't find yoga, it finds you."
I practiced on my own for about a year, more concerned about the mental work. I remember one Friday night as I was sitting at home, I started looking for a class on Saturday morning. I found a studio and booked the class, it felt great to practice with others and I began attending classes regularly. One day, as class is ending the instructor announces something about the teacher training program that they were hosting. I went home and looked it up. It started in less than a month but every weekend of training fell on a weekend that Aidan would be with his dad. Could this be a sign?! I called Shawn and he immediately said "do it".
Before I knew it, I was sitting in a circle on my first night of training feeling overwhelmed and terrified. I really didn't know anyone and felt out of my element. Everyone seemed so advanced and I remember thinking "I can't do this". I would also go home after 5 hours of yoga to discover that I was developing a UTI. Great, I had 16 hours of training the next two days and my vagina decided to start acting cray. I cried myself to sleep that night, poor Shawn didn't know what to do with himself, lol. The next day, I got up, give myself a pep-talk and walked out the door like a boss. I get to training and find out that I need to find a room in New Orleans for our next weekend of training. Seriously, no heads up?! Oh yea, some got a heads up but not me. Again, I went home for lunch feeling defeated and like I didn't belong. I finished out that first weekend like "What the fuck did I just do?" but I am not quitter so I was just going to stick it out. I wasn't there to be accepted, I was there for yoga.
My yoga sister, Jeanine was another soul who was left in the dark about the hotel situation so her and I decided to room together for our New Orleans training. The training was called "Art of Assisting" so I thought like an assistant; runs get your coffee, wipes the sweat off your forehead while your teaching. The joke was on me. It meant that we were going to be touching sweaty, strangers. I went into a panic, I did not like to be touched by people I don't know and now you telling me that I gotta touch people that I don't know?!?! Jeanine was my savor that weekend, she talked me off the ledge so many times, reassuring me that I could do this and that I was meant to be there. Had it not been for her, I probably would have got in my car and drove away. I survived that weekend and made it to the next one. I went into each weekend believing that I wasn't supposed to be there but as soon as I was with my yogis, I knew that's where I was supposed to be.
I learned a lot during the training, not only about yoga but about myself. I learned the type of person that I don't want to be and the type of people that I shouldn't surround myself with. I learned that sometimes people treat you like shit for no reason other than they think they are better than you. I learned that sometimes people use you when they realize that you can offer them something. I learned that if you want to be accepted, you must be accepting. I learned that I rather be broke and humble than rich and miserable. I learned that I don't want to be friends with the popular crowd. I learned that I was way too impatient and that I needed to relax. I learned that I didn't need to control everything. I learned that it was ok to cry. I learned that I matter, I'm important and I'm loved. I know that no dream is too big and anything is possible.
That doesn't mean that if you start doing yoga you will become this nice person who shits rainbows and flies on unicorns. I'm still impatient and rude. I can still be moody and I know my honesty is sometimes too much. Thing is, now I am aware of all of my shit and can work to control it. You are still human and you will still make mistakes, it's about turning your mistakes into lessons. You learn and grow on your mat with your physical practice just as you do off the mat. The work never stops.
"The beauty in the practice is that your journey will teach you lessons along the way. Lessons that you don't even realize you need to learn."
What I love the most is that no matter how long you practice, you will never master yoga. I love that every time I step on my mat, it will be a different experience. I am infatuated with the community that it creates. I am mind-blown that my profession is to teach yoga and I am grateful for every soul that I get to witness their practice.
Just as if I would be closing a class; "In case no one has told you today, You're important. You matter. You're loved. Your presence on this Earth makes a difference whether you realize it our not. May the long time sun shine upon you. May all love surround you, and may the pure light within you, guide you on your way. Namaste".
Peace, Love, Yoga
Crazy Cajun Yogi