When I was very young I remember my mother and my aunt doing what I know now to be a wall stretch, legs up the wall and some basic toe touching and warrior poses. I thought they were weird. Then my aunt told me to breathe. I informed her that I already was breathing, or how else could I possibly be living? “You would do good to learn to do some of this stretching and one day you might need to learn to breathe in a much more effective way.” She would tell me. I would poo poo the both of them and seek out my childhood friends for some wily adventures.
Over the years I had thought a lot about my aunt and my mother. They were both incredibly beautiful women inside and out and seemed to defy the aging process. They very rarely if ever complained about pain in their older years and I found myself wondering about them even more. My aunt had moved to Minneapolis but came to visit about once a year. I would drag out my sweats as I knew she was going to make me do some stretches with her. In her infinite wisdom she did not call it yoga as she probably knew I would think it was even weirder.
Over the years, as I grew up, my mother and aunt would constantly be told that they never aged. “What is your secret?” Others would ask them. I wondered if it was purely genetics or was it their diet. The wonderings I had of my mother and my aunt and how they seemed to be able to take life in stride soon gave way to my own years of turmoil and…ahem…lessons that I needed to learn.
Many years later, in my late twenties, I took a beginner class to get back to the basics of yoga and really learn the fundamentals. The instructor was very knowledgeable and after seeing and feeling the results in my body so quickly, I fell completely in love with yoga. And like a partner in life that you want to get to know more and spend time with and trust, I wanted to commit to it all the way. Yoga gave me my life back, not only in the asanas, but in the meditation and breathing techniques. I decided to go even deeper into the practice knowing full well it would be a life-long pursuit of ‘knowing’. The saying that you learn by teaching struck me with such a resounding soul filled echo that I decided I needed to become a yoga instructor. What better way to learn anything than by teaching it? One thing life had taught me so far is that those that you think that you will be teaching more often become some of your own best teachers. The path to becoming a yoga instructor has been nothing short of an amazing journey into myself and the incredible life around me that I used to take for granted.
Yoga gives me strength, confidence, patience, energy, vitality, deeper spiritual insight, a calm I’ve never experienced before, a centering and balance I never thought was possible and a tolerance for myself and others that amazes me every single day. That in itself is quite a feat for a once very high strung perfectionist with OCD tendencies. Yoga grounds me and centres me and I see it as a metaphor for life and authentic living. If I am out of alignment in yoga, I can feel it in my body and it affects my everyday business. I simply centre and get back into alignment and all becomes well in my universe. If I am out of alignment in life and authentic living, I can feel the undertow of life tugging and pulling. I simply get back into alignment and life is normal again, the normal that I have come to know and love and have been so blessed to call my life.
Hey Aunt Charisma, I am breathing – a breath unlike anything I’ve ever felt before in my life!
Char is current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program