I first discovered yoga when I was a teenager in the ’90s. I found an old yoga book with various poses and information about which pose was good for which organ. I started doing it in my room casually, sometimes in sweatpants, sometimes in jeans without really imagining it was doing much for my body. I always felt better and noticed my legs looked better, but I did a lot of long-distance walking, swimming, and regular trips to the gym, so I really didn’t consider yoga a major factor in my fitness regime.
I lost track of the book and never even thought of attending yoga classes for years. As the years went by, I associated yoga with the trendy expensive clothing brands and sweaty yoga studios filled with mostly women who were more obsessed with being part of the new trend then the spiritual or health benefits of the practice. It’s too bad I thought this way as I could have really benefited from a regular class or lesson.
It shouldn’t matter why or how someone wants to experience fitness or anything; it should only matter how we decide we want to experience something.
Thankfully, I rediscovered yoga in my thirties when my other fitness pursuits didn’t seem enough. I was feeling run down, and my old ability to eat or drink whatever I wanted was coming to an end. So, as I transitioned first to vegetarianism and then to veganism, I started taking yoga classes. At first, I dabbled. I would regularly go for a few months, then not at all for six. Then between work contracts and having returned from a trip, I decided to join a nearby yoga studio and try to finally be rid of the extra waist pounds I couldn’t seem to get rid of. The yoga studio was called Yoga Star, and it was a few blocks away from my apartment.
I would try to go once or twice a day as well as going for a long walk or to the gym up the street. The classes were at least an hour, and sometimes I was so tired, I would decide not to go. But, the studio was so close I would literally trick myself into going. Like, well, I’m not going to go, but I can put on my sweat pants. I’m not going to go, but I can put my sneakers on if I change my mind. Then I was dressed and figured I might as well go.
Sometimes, in life, it is difficult for things to line up. I have spent many years waiting, hoping, or wishing for certain opportunities, and this one fell into my lap. The yoga studio was close by, had many different teachers, and offered different styles of yoga. As well, they had a reasonably priced unlimited monthly pass, so I had no excuses not to try it out. I probably lost some weight, I attained muscle tone and strength, but more importantly, I was gaining the invaluable gift of self-discovery, awareness, and the tools to heal. I was exhausted; my body and mind were tired and needed change. The racing thoughts, the overwhelming emotions, the inner turmoil, the inability to concentrate all needed to go.
Yoga was peacefully, quietly helping me move from one life to another.
I had started my journey for superficial reasons but gratefully stayed on the path towards a new life, perspective, and way of being. Our minds are powerful. And we can spend a lifetime stuck in bad patterns and situations or reset and try to change our ways. There are many types of yoga, and it is encouraged for people to try as many styles and see what works for them. I think I will always like a variety depending on my mood, but I have to say that Kundalini yoga is probably one of the most powerful forms of transformation and healing.
The poses and repetitions, the breathwork, are so focused that I’ve finished hour-long classes and felt like I just left my life for an hour. That is, I was so focused on the yoga that my mind was clear, quiet for the entire time. I used to love to drink wine after a bad day…or really any day. But, if I had a particularly bad day, I would get some wine and think, I will spend some time thinking about what happened. However, before my first glass was done, I was playing my ukulele, singing, dancing, searching destinations for my next trip.
These are all good things, and I’m glad I didn’t give any more energy to the petty drama and chaos of my daily life, but the fact that I needed alcohol to numb my mind is not. For me, Kundalini was and is a mind vacation with no hangover and long term biological damage. During my pregnancy and after the birth of my son, I took some pre and postnatal classes. However, most of the time, I was just too tired to really think about yoga and preferred sleep. Now that my sleep schedule is back on track, I have once more started doing yoga every day. Whether it’s quick 15 minutes here or there, or a full hour while my son naps, I find myself craving my yoga time and the way it changes my body and mind.
My little guy tries to copy the moves I do or whichever yoga video I’m watching. This makes me happy that he will grow up in a home where the yoga mat is always rolled out in the living room, and it’s perfectly normal for one or both of his parents to do classes or randomly bust out a downward dog or warrior pose. I’m grateful that my husband was a huge fan of yoga for many years before we met and is eager for our family to keep practicing.
With the virus keeping us close to home, we will dive into our books and favorite online yoga instructors. But, when studios open up again, we will be sure to attend a variety of classes, and hopefully, some of the many retreats offered all over Europe.I have created some posts dedicated to my favorite yoga studios and online instructors. I haven’t been to that many places, but I will update the list in the future.