Thursday, 19 July 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Yoga

Reading about the experiences of others in the Teacher Training program, I must admit that I am somewhat envious of the early exposure to yoga that some individuals received. My household was more of a Jane Fonda workout kind of environment and the only thing my mother ever told me about yoga was that she had tried it once and found it incredibly boring (ironically, she became a convert to the joys of yoga about a year ago).

As a result of my lack of early exposure to yoga, I did not encounter and experiment with it until my early twenties. And I am somewhat abashed to admit that it was mainly a matter of economy that originally brought me to the yoga mat instead of some other form of exercise. At the time, I was a cash-strapped young person and most of the studios offered a free first class. Well, the word “free” had a Pavlovian effect on my friends so the next thing I knew, I was buying an only slightly irregular pair of discount sweatpants (I’m pretty sure this was before the term “yoga pants” had been coined) and hitting a circuit of introductory classes.

As I visited a variety of studios and experienced a few different styles of yoga, I felt my interest building and there is one class in particular that stands out for me. The instructor had asked us to lay on our back with the bottoms of our feet pressed into the wall. She then had us do a series of stretches with one of the legs and then place our feet back against the wall. What I discovered upon doing this was that one of my legs now actually seemed longer than the other. I was amazed at this. It made me feel like I had some sort of control over my body – a sensation that I had little familiarity with at that point.

Throughout the years, yoga was always in my life but always on the back burner. I never had enough time to go to classes, enough money; it didn’t fit into my schedule etc. Then as my life became more hectic, more filled with work and kids and stress, I realized that yoga needed to be brought forward to the front burner. Only by making a practice such as yoga a priority would I be able to gain back a feeling of control over my life. By making my practice a priority, I was making my self a priority.

It is my hope that through teaching, I will be able to help others to find the love of yoga and the connection with their true selves that I myself have experienced. Don’t get me wrong: my personal practice still has a long ways to go. But helping others to strive for deeper and more complete poses without “pushing” themselves will also help me to be kinder and more forgiving of myself, I believe.

As of this fall, I will be starting a volunteer position teaching a Beginner’s class at a local Family Centre. It is an undertaking about which I feel excited, but also very nervous.  However, in the same way that I knew it was time to pursue my interest in yoga more seriously, I know that it is now time to step forward and give teaching a try. For if there is no progress forward, then there is only stagnation, inertia, and ultimately, discontent. If I hadn’t donned those irregular, discount yoga sweats so many years ago then I would never have learned how much I love yoga and, likewise, unless I give teaching a try, I’ll never know if it’s something that works for me.

Wish me luck.


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