A pivotal point in my recent life journey emerged when I began to actively practice yoga in 2011. Seeking a variation in my exercise and physical activity I entered a yoga studio in Southern Pines, NC where I was spending much of the winter with my horses, seeking refuge from the NE winter.
Challenging, sweaty, painful, humiliating….my first few experiences in the studio. My inflexible limbs would not cooperate with the suggested poses. Gasping for air, I could not stay in step with gentle, slow breathing. I lived for the end of the class, shavasana, or corpse pose, when you get to lie down, close your eyes, and drift off.
Two teachers became role models and inspiration for my practice, Sarah and Marcella. Quiet, strong, supple, they encouraged and helped me stay with it. Most of all, I loved that they reminded me that it is Yoga practice, not Yoga perfect. I began to view yoga as a way of self-expression, living and practicing within my own limits. I released the need to compare myself to others in the room; to focus on my mat and do my best. I learned I could take this concept off the mat, out of the studio, into the world.
Marcella suggested that I consider a yoga teacher training in order to deepen my practice and learn more about the history and aspects of yoga that transcend the physical poses. Though I did not have the desire to necessarily teach or make a living at it, I was intrigued and curious. After exploring a few options, I chose to embark on perhaps the most expensive basic 200 hour training ever! I enrolled in Rolf Gate’s course in Orlando FL, requiring monthly weekend travel to Orlando for 15 months!
My choice of teacher was simple and straightforward; I had seen the fruits of Rolf’s trainings mirrored in Marcella’s teaching, and I was drawn to the style and softness of the practice. When I heard of his personal transformation as a result of yoga, I had to see for myself what this deeper training was all about. The program was fascinating, freeing, rigorous. Our group became fast friends and shared many laughs and still stay in touch.
Since completion in 2012, I have taught only a handful of courses. The value and principles remain imbedded in my spirit. Over the years, I have abandoned my yoga out of laziness, distraction or simple lack of interest.
Isolated in Kenya, unable to run freely as yet, homesick and longing for family, familiar foods and experiences, I turn to yoga. I take my seat on the mat and breathe. Rejuvenating my practice has given me focus, peace, serenity, balance, and the challenge of loosening my increasingly taut body! As the blood and breath reach into cells and muscles ignored for months/years, I feel stimulated yet relaxed. My cells are invigorated and my body tingles with the familiar awakening of this movement of energy within.
I am grateful and appreciate this renewal. It helps me get through days when I feel lost and isolated. My muscles and ligaments respond with strengthening and increasing flexibility. When beginning yoga I did not expect to learn anything other than physical poses, physical flexibility.
The insights received from both formal training and regular practice comfort and ground me, affecting both my physical and emotional experience:
- Surrender my expectations for perfection
- Open my heart
- Balance effort with ease
- Abide calmly in the moment
- Do my best, without straining or struggle
- I can take my seat anytime, in order to change my attitude or experience
- Letting go of struggle yields peace and comfort
- Being present in the moment attunes me with my feelings and emotional state
- Release from my mind made prison, being present
- Suffering is optional
There are so many others….try it on for size!
I thank all of those teachers who have inspired, guided, enlightened, and led me to the beautiful, grounding and heart opening practice of yoga.