I remember the first yoga class I ever went to. I was in college and a friend of mine at the time kept telling me that I needed to give it a try-- that I'd really like it.
"Isn't yoga where you sit cross-legged or lie down on the ground or whatever?" I remember asking him.
He laughed and said no and insisted that I give it a shot. Reluctantly, I agreed. I had nothing to lose except maybe an hour of my time-- and that could just as easily be spent watching a TV show that I didn't care about. Might as well, I figured.
My first class shocked me. It was nothing like lying down or sitting around fidgeting like I had expected. It was very active but what I loved the most was that during the class, I'd hardly thought at all about everything that I had to do that day. My mind wasn't racing at 100 MPH like it usually did-- ping ponging from one subject to the next. I was staying present in the moment, something totally unfamiliar to me. Not to mention, I was pretty sore after class and had gotten a great workout.
So I went back. And then again, and eventually it became a part of my routine. Yoga became a time for myself - where I could try new things, challenge myself in different ways, and didn't have to think about anything else other than what I was doing in that very moment.
After I graduated college, I got out of the practice of going to yoga classes regularly. I moved around a lot. I thought about starting again but always felt that I was just too busy. Eventually, I moved to Vancouver where I didn't really know anyone and I felt completely lost at first. I decided one night that I would take a class after work to give myself something else to do other than sit at home and looking at facebook and missing my friends and family back home.
I was instantly reminded of how much I loved yoga. I was hooked. I started practicing regularly again and started seeing changes not only in my practice, but my mindset as well. I liked it so much I even started to consider becoming a yoga teacher to help people in the same way teachers had helped me.
It took awhile but the timing finally worked out and I was able to sign up and complete my yoga teacher training this year!
And to be honest, it came to me and everything lined up at the exact right time in my life. My husband and I have been working together at the same job in South Florida for the past two years. It's been very trying at times. Recently, right as I was finishing up my teacher training, my husband was let go.
It has been an extremely difficult time for me but yoga has taught me to breathe, to stay present (or at least try my best!), to keep an open heart and a clear mind. Practicing yoga helps keep me balanced which in turn helps me to be a support to the people around me. It has become more than just a physical practice, but an emotional and spiritual journey as well.
I read a quote from Baxter Bell recently. He said, "Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting mental patterns that cause anxiety."
This, especially with everything my husband and I have been dealing with lately, really resonates with me.
Since practicing yoga, I have been able to find moments of inner peace - even in some of my most challenging times. I still have a lot of growing to do, but when I think back, I'm so very grateful that I agreed to tag along with my friend that day to that very first yoga class.