I wasn’t always infatuated with yoga. In fact, I hated yoga...until I loved yoga.
My frustration with yoga began because it kept rudely pointing out all of the things I couldn’t do, like touch my toes. I've been blessed with super tight hamstrings and a lower back that refuses to budge.
I was certain yoga was mocking me whenever I attempted to straighten my back in down dog. And then there was the pain. I was only in my early thirties when it first started. I noticed extreme stiffness upon awakening and muscle and joint pain all day long.
How I First "Met" Yoga
This is where my yoga love story starts. I first met yoga at Highland Spring Resort in Cherry Valley, California. When I was seven years old, my parents would take me and my older brothers to this all-inclusive summer resort. This was one of those places that offered tons of fun for the family; horseback riding, swimming, hay rides and my dad’s favorite offering of all - all meals included!
They also offered daily yoga classes on the lawn. Bright and early, my dad and I would rise and shine and head to yoga class where we would do Sun Salutations to greet the sun, "Hello Sun!". I liked it.
I was a quirky kid who enjoyed communicating with nature anyway, so I was already accustomed to speaking to trees and clouds, so why not the sun? Also, I liked "yoga people" they felt happy and familiar. But spending a week or so each summer in Cherry Valley, does not a practice make.
Fast forward a couple of decades...
What do you know — my old pal, yoga, shows up all over the place in a more mainstream kind of way. At gyms, in parks and on people’s minds. I stuck my toe in once again, that toe that I still couldn’t touch.
I was good at other things… martial arts, tennis, swimming, I even enjoyed the whole Tae Bo craze. But yoga, I just wasn’t any good at it. And that little fact right there developed deeply seated issues between yoga and me. I developed resentment and contempt whenever we met on the mat.
Saying hello to the sun just wasn’t enough for me anymore.
It wasn’t until someone suggested I take teacher’s training when things got even stranger. I did take teacher’s training. Six months of Kundalini yoga and meditation training. I told myself that I was “in it for the mantras.”
I enjoy chanting and singing those pretty mantra songs, they make me feel good. So I figured I’d just power through the yoga part, to get to the good-feeling part. After I graduated, I even taught a few classes with a friend. He taught the yoga section and I wrapped up the class with meditation.
You’d think that after all of that that I would have finally declared myself and yoga an official item. Nope! I stopped teaching and then went several months without teaching or practicing.
How Yoga Became a Daily Activity for Me
So how did it happen? How am I today, as I type this, a devoted yogini through and through? A yogini who never, ever misses a day of yoga? How did I get here?
That persistent pain called… pain. A lot of it. It was Muscular pain throughout my body. I love to work-out but all of my work-outs weren’t working out. In fact, they caused me even more pain.
One day, while visiting my aging mom, I was caught off guard while watching her walk. She was struggling with her balance and aches and pains to such a degree it seemed that a wheelchair would soon be in her future. She did a lot of sitting and not a lot of moving and now, she can barely walk.
A meditation chime went off in my brain and the next sentence I heard was, It doesn’t have to be this way for you.
Finding Healing in Yoga
I immediately found a yoga teacher online and found a thirty minute Vinyasa on youtube. It was a hatha mix with some fast and some slow movements. I started immediately. I began to do this every single day, never missing a day. I even took my travel mat to Italy and never missed a day while I was traveling.
Within six months, my pain was gone. Not “a little improved” but GONE. I also toned-up and lost a few pounds. I felt better, stronger and more like myself. It turned out that my old friend, yoga, was always with me. Yoga was just waiting for me to be ready.
I never miss a day of my home practice, I take weekly group classes, I have yoga Pinterest boards, yoga is all over my subconscious and conscious mind now. I am comfortable coming out and saying this loud and proud: Yoga, I am in-love with you!
I feel fortunate to have discovered yoga for myself again...
I finally realized that yoga is not about touching my toes. It’s about the journey I take with my own mind, heart, spirit and body. It’s about showing up and loving myself enough to take that time on the mat each day to truly be present.