January 2024 will mark the 14th year since I began practicing yoga. And it holds as much allure and joy today as it did the first day I unrolled my mat. My journey began in an unexpected place: 24 Hour Fitness in Downtown Petaluma.
Like most Americans, I joined the gym with a new year’s resolution. My resolution was not only to become healthy but to find myself again. After 4 pregnancies and very little consistent exercise, multiple health issues (chronic asthma being the worst offender), a sense of loss (of myself and a baby I lost in 2002), a very busy+chaotic+full life with 3 active kids (one with achondroplasia), I just needed some time to myself. I needed to put myself back on the list.
When I joined the gym, I thought it was going to be easy-peasy. Prior to the kids, I used to be on a body builder’s regimen of lifting 6 days a week, 2 hours per day. I loved it. It was my Zen space. My time to reflect, be quiet, think or not think. It was perfect. So, when I joined 24 Hour Fitness, I thought “Oooh, this is perfect! I will jump right back into my regimen.” I did. And I hated it. I couldn’t concentrate. My mind wouldn’t stop wandering. I couldn’t stop looking at the clock and hoping I was almost done. THIS is not what I wanted my “me” time to look like nor feel like.
I realized it was time to try something different. I tried all the classes (spin, kickboxing, step, mat Pilates, yoga) to see which one would speak to me. I couldn’t wait for spin class to be over and I never got used to the discomfort of that seat! I loved kickboxing, but… Step was a disaster! I have two left feet and zero rhythm so there’s that. Mat Pilates was ok. Yoga…OMG, yoga. It was as if it knew exactly what I needed and wanted. I unrolled my mat and, even though I had no idea where to set up my feet for the poses nor what to do with my arms and torso, it SPOKE to me! It was saying all the right things and I was there for it. You guys, I think this was the first time in my life that my mind was focused on the present moment. For 1 hour I didn’t think about anything except my body, my breath, my connection to everything RIGHT NOW. I had never experienced this before. EVER. And it was exactly what I had been searching for.
Today, yoga has the same hold on me that it did 14 years ago. It is still a place of awe, wonder, stillness, connection, joy, peace, love. Every day, I come to my mat and the practice is there to nurture and support me. No matter what it is I need.
The thing you will be interested to learn is that January 2010 wasn’t my first yoga experience. I had tried (and loved) a prenatal yoga class in 2002 in San Francisco--when I was pregnant with Yasmeen (the baby I lost). It was part of a spa day in the City with a group of moms who were also pregnant. I really enjoyed the class and the teacher, but it wasn’t my time to embrace “yoga.” I wasn’t in the right space to experience the entirety of the practice. And that’s ok. When it is our time, the practice will reveal itself. And that’s what happened in 2010. I was ready, the practice was there, I embraced it. The rest is history and can be marked by all the milestones of blue door.
Yoga literally changed my life. The breath practice cured me of my uncontrolled asthma. Prior to yoga I was on a steroid inhaler (day and night) but still needed my rescue inhaler up to 5x a day. THAT is not good! Within 6 months of starting the practice, with very experienced Yogaworks trained teachers, and breathing properly, my asthma was completely gone. I ditched the inhalers and haven’t used them since.
You guys have heard me say this before and I will continue to say it: yoga is not a movement practice, it is an energy management system. It allows you to find equilibrium and balance. In the body, mind, energy system, spirit. THIS is what I found when I unrolled my mat in January 2010. I encourage you to give yourself the space to find it as well.