1. How did you start yoga? Why do you still practice? How has your practice changed?
I started yoga with my “Journey into Power” Baron Baptiste DVD, and by going to a small group class with my colleague Renee. At the time (1999 or so), I worked at a start up software company as a Technical Writer. Like most beginners, yoga was exercise to me: it was about my body becoming more flexible. (I didn’t even have the “strength” bit in mind back then!) I still remember the first time the instructor led “eagle arms”. I remember looking at Renee in horror and her putting her thumb to her nose and waving her other fingers at me, while all twisted up, a smile on her face. I still practice because I feel better when I do. (One of my teachers passed along what her teacher used to say: “practice yoga on the days you want to feel good.”) My practice is much less intensely physical, and much more breath- and mentally-focused—I practice movements and breathing patterns that hold my attention, help me stay out of (a newly developed chronic pain condition), and feel more at ease.
2. Why do you teach yoga? Why did you start and why do you stay? How has your teaching evolved?
I teach yoga because it makes me feel good, and I love making other people feel better too. I started teaching because I discovered a different person underneath the one I thought I was (in the corporate world), and I liked her much better! She seemed much less uptight, a little more relaxed, a little more confident and dare I say “goofy”. I have also always loved movement (I used to dance a lot), and when I added the breath it was just so calming. Why I stay is a good question, because in many ways yoga systematically dismantled my life, and has made some things harder. I stay because I can’t imagine going back to that other world. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful with my life now. I know something I didn’t know before, and there’s no going back! My teaching has evolved the way my personal practice and training have. Always compassionate but even more gentle, therapeutic, and mind-focused now. I study way more philosophy (e.g. Yoga Sutras, the Gita, etc.) now; these have captured my attention and interest and sometimes I feel better just reading about yogic concepts.
3. What do you know to be true about yoga and what could this mean? How has yoga impacted your life in ways large and small?
What’s true about yoga is you get what you put into it. For years I had the tools (including a pain-free, mobile body!) but didn’t use them. I’m not sure whether it was laziness, forgetfulness, or simply a disbelief that they would work for me. I remember seeing all these healthy yogis and wondering why I didn’t “get it” (especially the spiritual stuff). I liked the physical aspect, but I knew there was something more and I suppose my mind/heart just weren’t ready for it. I think we all let things in on our own time. Yoga totally ruined my life. Said more positively it completely and utterly transformed it, and I’ve no doubt that it will continue to. Sometimes the uncertainty is what’s scary. Yoga has changed my location, career, name, mindset about health, eating habits, relationships, the ways I speak to myself, how I sleep, what “balance” looks like, what “health” means to me, and so on. It shows me daily where I fall short, giving me opportunities to be kinder to myself and/or make different decisions.
Note: This blog was prompted by a blog from Kate Connell Potts at You & The Yoga Mat, so props to her for making me consider these questions!