The Unexpected Yoga Teacher

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Life is funny.  The unexpected twists and turns along the way keep us on our toes and keep us guessing.

My yoga “journey” has started, and stopped, multiple times in my life.  I’ve always wanted to take classes, always wanted to learn, always wanted to have a yoga practice….but it never quite happened.  The few gym classes I tried just weren’t what I was looking for.  But, as I think back, maybe I didn’t know WHAT I was actually looking for.

I remember taking one class and being told I had to take off my shoes.  “It’s a gym class, why can’t I wear my gym shoes? My balance stinks with my shoes off!!”

Another class (at a different gym) left me with similar doubts.  “What do you mean I have to do a push up with my elbows against my ribs.  Everyone knows that’s not how you do a push up!  And what is with our instructor doing handstands every time she tells us to go to the top of our mats?  Show off!”

Eventually, I gave up.  “Maybe I should try Tai Chi?”

While I did not take up Tai Chi, I did start running.  The link between yoga and running probably seems thin at best, to most…but to me, it makes perfect sense.  Meditation is a very important part of rounded yoga practice.  You don’t have to sit cross legged, on the floor, in a corner, with incense burning, staring at a statue of Buddha to do it.  For me, running was my meditation.  It was the hour of so of my day when my “monkey mind” shut the heck up.  When I could be present in the moment, and not worry about what I’d done or what I needed to do.  After running hundreds and hundreds of miles and filling my closet with 5K, 10K, and half marathon tshirts, I ended up with a stress fracture in my knee.  Crutches were awarded instead of a finisher’s medal…..in lieu of celebration and a sense of accomplishment, I ended up with weight gain and depression.

And here is where yoga entered my life….for real.  It started out as nothing more than a last-ditch effort to get myself back into running.  I’d heard that yoga helps keep runners from getting injured, and it just so happened that a local yoga studio owner was speaking at the weekly runner’s group that very Wednesday night.  I signed up for her 6 week Yoga for Runners workshop on Thursday, and the rest, they say, is history.

I’d been taking dance lessons since I was 3 years old….so the movement part of yoga appealed to me.  I hadn’t been able to run, so the “meditation” part of it was also welcomed.  And, (most importantly) she explained why my elbows needed to be kept close to my ribs while doing a “push up”, rather than just barking the order.  🙂

I found I wanted to know more, do more, practice more.

At first, I mostly looked for physical improvements.  Better forward folds, more open hips and hamstrings….and I was getting those things, so no complaints.  But, the other positives that came along with the physical were what really impressed me.  Self confidence, better self image and acceptance, stress relief, clearer skin (I kid you not!!) and a community of people I enjoyed being around.

I’d spent many hours assisting at the dance studio where I studied….many hours tutoring classmates through difficult lesson plans….and loved my time assistant teaching the special needs classes in junior high and high school.  I originally was going to go to college for music education.   (bring on those squawking clarinets, and honking trumpets!)  So, when I was asked if I would be interested in enrolling in the yoga teacher training program, it instantly fascinated and excited me.

And that, folks, takes us to the year 2013.  I’m now a registered yoga instructor with a 200 hour certification under my belt.

There are quite a few people out there who practice and teach yoga; those with their own thoughts and opinions on how and why we do what we do.  In the end, no matter how different our individual our journeys may be, we’re all trying to get to the same place.  Questions or comments about something I say or post on this blog are welcomed.  (Especially if they are delivered in the same spirit in which they were posted. Conversations and debates are great, arguments and hatred are exhausting.)

Namaste yogis,

Nej

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