Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Yoga Convert

I often hear stories of people who had a “love at first sight” experience with yoga. I have to admit though that I did not instantly fall in love with practicing yoga. It wasn’t as if I attended one class and decided that it was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Far from it. A college classmate dragged me to a hot yoga class early one Saturday morning. I was tired and hungover. By the end of the 90 minute class I wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep for the next week. I decided that yoga just wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t until several years later that I gave it another shot. I had decided at the time that I didn’t enjoy running, wasn’t fond of weight lifting, and just couldn’t get into cardio kickboxing. Perhaps yoga could get my lazy butt into shape. I first came to yoga only concerned with tightening my buns and trimming my waistline. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

When I started taking classes on my lunch break I would return to work with extra energy. One class a week slowly increased to two or three. During my first pregnancy I began practicing at home by stretching in the evenings and during my second pregnancy I focused on mediation in anticipation for childbirth and delivery. Practicing yoga on a regular basis was not something I had planned or thought much about. It just kind of happened.

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I began to understand the deeper lessons that yoga offered. Like most new moms I was lost and overwhelmed, I felt overtaken by the role of motherhood. I struggled to find my footing and regain a sense of identity outside of caring for my children. The practice of yoga gave me space, a quiet moment to reconnect with who I was at my core. When I lose myself in the fast pace of everyday life, quiet meditation is there to center me again.

I had started attending yoga classes strictly for fitness but found that over time it has transformed everyday living into a spiritual practice. I don’t think of spiritual in terms of the supernatural. To me, living spiritually means taking the time to nurture yourself emotionally. Finding a quiet moment while washing dishes to immerse yourself in the miracle of running hot water in my kitchen or feeling joy while reflecting on a day spent with my family. Those have turned into spiritual moments for me.

I, like many people, lose those moments when I am not fully present in my life. My mind often gets carried away with a never ending “to do” list or feels like I am not getting a break from my children. I am now finding joy in tasks I used to agonize over. Bedtime is no longer about struggling to get kids to sleep (geez kid… can’t you see I have a kitchen to clean?) but surrendering to a family snugglefest in bed.

While the physical benefits of yoga are undeniable they have taken a back seat to the emotional journey I have embarked on. My asana practice helps to ground and reconnect me with living in the moment. One breath, one movement at a time. It awakens me to the sensations of my body and blocks the distraction of thinking too far ahead in time or reflecting too deeply on the past. Despite our rocky beginnings, I am a yoga convert.

Krista Heimpel
January 2014

Krista is currently enrolled in the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200hr Teacher Training Program

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

My Yoga Journey So Far

Just over 5 years ago, I went to a weekend Yoga retreat and was amazed after that weekend how great my body and mind felt, how relaxed and unstressed I was when I returned to my daily family and work routine.   It took me several more years to realise how important the self-care that I obtained through Yoga was to me and gradually started increasing my number of weekly Yoga classes to maintain my self-care.

Upon my recent retirement, I enrolled in the Yoga Centre – Teacher Training 2 year Program with the premise in mind that it would keep me physically active through another facet, allow me to focus and learn more about myself, deepen my own practise and the possibly of teaching Yoga.

The Yoga Centre – Teacher Training Program so far has been such an awesome learning experience for me.  I realize that I know so little about Yoga, about myself and am so motivated to learn more.  As I deepen my practise I am learning to physically challenge my body in a very non-competitive manner and that it is important to appreciate the process and practise the Asana (postures) and that it is not just about  the perfect attainment of the Asana.   I am engaging in exciting and challenging learning experiences within the Yoga Centre teacher training program, under guidance of excellent educators and through all the different Yoga classes and levels.   Also as I work through this program even though there is so much to learn I feel the Yoga Centre is providing me with quality role models, instruction, tools and feedback to be an effective Yoga teacher that will help me lead students forward and draw out their self-care which I feel is very important.

Yoga is increasingly becoming a very important part of my daily life.   Yoga is teaching me to keep my life in balance, reduce the worry, it’s okay to be still, be forgiving to myself and others, be grateful, provide service and much much more.  

I am passionate to enjoy my life and to help others enjoy their lives as much as I can.   Through Yoga with a healthier body and positive mind; I believe this can be accomplished with total understanding that there are always life challenges.

Judy McMullen

Judy is currently enrolled in the Yoga Centre Winnipeg Teacher Training Program her contribution is a part of a series on How Yoga Changed My Life, submitteed by the 2013/2014 YCW TT participants