Thursday, August 22, 2013

Finding My Way Back to Yoga


I took my first yoga class in the early 1990's. I had always wanted to try yoga, and with a recent divorce I felt ready to open myself up to something new and different.

I registered for a class at my local community college and I remember being super nervous for that first class. I didn’t know my way around campus, didn’t know what to expect from the class, and I wasn’t sure if yoga would really be for me.

 
As usual with worry, it was all for naught. I found the yoga room, the class wasn’t what I expected, but it was definitely for me. It was in that class that I took my first conscious deep belly breath – I breathed on purpose and with purpose.

As soon as I got back to my car after that first class I cried my eyes out. Maybe it was all the oxygen I took in. Maybe I was relieved that I had taken the first step, or the fact that I knew yoga had already changed me – with only one class. I was right where I belonged.

 
Way back then, in the early 1990’s, I was a bit of an emotional case. I was in my 30’s and trying to find my footing in this life. I was cynical and had no spiritual aspirations. I was finding my way with being a single parent, struggling with my body image, self-esteem, anxiety…sigh. Yes, I was a bit of a mess.

Competitive sports had never been fun for me, and I still suffered the sting of always being the last one chosen to be on the team in high school physical education classes. Man, I always hated that! My 7th grade gym teacher once told me that I ran like I was pulling a trailer, so I needless to say, my confidence level in any physical activity was pretty low.

 
One of the things that really appealed to me in that first yoga class was the reassurance from our teacher that yoga was a non-competitive practice. We honored the differences in our bodies, kept our minds free of personal judgment, honored our movements no matter how big or small, and never – I mean never – compared our progress to the person on the mat beside us. I loved that!

As I continued to practice, yoga became a safe haven for me. When the stresses of a crazy work day threatened to rock my boat, I paused and took deep breaths. While standing in line at the grocery store waiting to pay, I used that time to check my posture – to stand tall with my feet planted and breathe deeply while I waited. I found that yoga calmed me, no matter what the situation was.
 
I also carried myself differently and I gained more confidence in my physical abilities. It took time and practice, but eventually I could do some of the more advanced poses, and the physical strength I gained was something I’d never experienced before.
 

That was many years ago, and I could write blog posts about yoga and my experiences with it every day for the next couple of years if I set my mind to it. But this is a blog for random, not yoga. Having a shoulder injury took me away from my yoga practice for a few years, but as of last Saturday I am back on my mat.
 

I registered for a class at my local community college, and I found my way through campus and into the classroom. I kept my eyes on the teacher and not my neighbor, and I honored myself through poses that were once effortless but now presented new challenges for me.
 
After class I cried a few happy tears when I got back to my car. Maybe it was all the oxygen I took in. Maybe I was relieved that I had taken my first step back to yoga, or the fact that I knew yoga had already changed me.

Oh yes, I am right where I belong.

20 comments:

Sian said...

I've never tried yoga, but in the 90's I did Pilates and I loved it. I only stopped because the friend I went with moved way..and I've been talking about going back ever since! You have got me thinking

Cheri said...

I just started back in yoga too. Second class last night. It is called "gentle, restorative yoga" and we only get through about four postures in one class - all sitting or lying down (no down dog - yay!). I'm going to work my way back up to a standard hatha class, but even when I was going regularly I hated down dog.

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

Yay! I started too, as you know. I still don't have the flexibility I had, but I know I will get there. So glad it's made a difference for you!

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

I love this post. I too was the last to be picked and hated team sports and athletics. I turned to cross country and distance running, where I wouldn't be letting anyone else down. I'm looking forward to getting back to Pilates, once the children return to school.

Becky said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Yoga has always interested me but I have never gone to a class. I might look up and see if there is a local one to me now - you have inspired me :-)

alexa said...

A very moving post ... I have been thinking about yoga recently as I did it a lot in my university years and then stopped when I was pregnant with our first child. Like Sian, you are making me think. I have everything I need to get started on my own again ...

Sinead said...

I've never done yoga, but it's something I've thought about for a while. Sport was never really my forte either, but I do like to keep fit and I think the relaxing and steadying effect of yoga could be right for me! Such a lovely post :)

Susi said...

My sister and I tried what was supposed to be a beginners yoga class a few years ago. It was a bit much for the both of us and our instructor had problems showing up and rescheduling. We ended up taking only two of the six sessions. But recently our hair stylist has become a yoga instructor and has offered us classes. We are considering it and at least we know she will show!
Enjoy your classes! Love that those rock stacks seem to go so well with your story!

Ruth said...

You are definitely encouraging me to be brave and find a beginner's class. Well done you!

Karen said...

I tried yoga once but at that time it wasn't for me as I was taking combat and kick boxing classes so more into power and speed than quiet thoughtful exercise. I still prefer classes that are frantic and exhausting and wished I could pound the streets like I used to 20 years ago. I can totally see how yoga would suit you.

helena said...

love all the stone photos you used. I've often thought about trying yoga - your story is adding to those thoughts

Abi said...

Beautiful words Debs. I have never tried yoga but you may have tempted me.

Karen said...

I've done yoga off and on for many years, but never really established a practice. The photographs you took for this post are wonderful and so perfect!

Auntie Bliss said...

Sweet, happy story!

I tried it for the first time, on a campus a couple winters ago and LOVED it...although I had to drop out on a few moves and let the more experienced kids do their thing but then I'd get back in and finish the hour to my own amazement.
Parking is such a problem...that is why I stopped :( Might try again soon.

Amy said...

I am seriously losing my mind - I really was convinced I had commented on this post.
I love that you have found your way back into yoga as it is something that has obviously been a big and important part of your life.

As for me, I am always too uncoordinated to last longer than one session .. not very zen of me is it?! ;)

Maria Ontiveros said...

Lovely photos and words today, Deb.
As you know, I love yoga. I'm not practicing now, and I miss it. But yoga really helped me get through my dad's terminal illness and then my mom's passing. My gym had a class for a while and I was sooo sad when it dropped from the curriculum.
So happy that you've found your way back.
Rinda

Margaret said...

I need to get back into yoga. It's been a long time.

Lisa-Jane said...

I love this post!! I love how the stones are all over the place and then they start stacking again like your bones are getting back on top of each other. I had to stop for a while with a shoulder injury too but I started back about 4 weeks ago and I can already feel the difference. I'm so glad you found it again.

Kristi Kidd said...

After I read this, I cried a couple tears too. I love that you are back in practice. :)

Gail said...

Wonderful post and pictures Deb. I've never taken a class in yoga but have always been intrigued with it. Right now though I think we'll be looking into a class in Tai Chi (sp?) before I tackle yoga.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...