My first yoga class was as a college senior – I was going to have all of the course requirements for graduating, but be one credit hour short of the required number of hours. I was taking five classes each of my last two quarters and really, really didn’t want to take anything over that one last teeny tiny hour that I needed. That meant something in the physical education category and I chose yoga – it seemed like a good idea, I’d be working two jobs, plus babysitting, interviewing for jobs and taking a full load of classes – and yoga should be stress free.
It was a great idea!
For 90 minutes every Tuesday morning that fall quarter in 2000, I could escape the fact that I still hadn’t found a company I wanted to work for, was stressed by the whole interview process, and still had 8 hours of classes to attend that day. On Thursday’s I had that 90 minute window to myself and often found that I would rather have been in yoga moving through cat / cow and Sun Salutation C, than taking advantage of the time to do coursework for other classes.
I graduated in March of 2001, started working full time in April and got swept away into life’s activities. Including a move across the country from Ohio to California. Not being a particularly outgoing person, and needing to be more extroverted at work than I’d prefer, my exercise consisted of running at the local park, working out at the gym, a random yoga workout video and even less occasionally pulling out the final project from that yoga class which was a self designed sequence.
The hectic pace of life continued, working well more than 40 hours a week and taking full time classes towards an MBA. When I finished that degree I needed a new goal. This was in the form of joining Team in Training to run a half marathon and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I successfully completed the event and kept running despite a lingering knee injury (that eventually resulted in surgery) and often found myself returning to yoga poses despite not formally practicing. Downward dog and cobra were just what I needed to relax and stretch the back side of my body.
About two years ago, nearing the end of another masters degree program and other life events, I had the need for some serious calming activities and some form of “therapy”. I found myself going back to yoga and struggling through a pretty intense vinyasa flow class. I wasn’t sure why it was so hard (I mean I was in shape – I’ve done 12 half marathons, 5 cross country ski races and numerous day long hikes) until I went to the next class and realized I was holding my breath.
I was holding in tension, making the practice harder and creating uncomfortable feelings, much like was happening in my life off the mat. I began to focus on breathing smoothly and evenly and, maybe even more importantly, relaxing and using the breath to calm myself. With continued practice I felt less anxious about life and more in control. I also found gentler forms of yoga – gentle flow, Yin and Restorative.
With gentle yoga I see a huge opportunity to bring the practice to others who wouldn’t traditionally recognize yoga as their activity of choice. I see huge benefits for athletes and patients with cancer and chronic diseases. The opportunities to gain strengthen, improve breathing capabilities and fully stretch into the tense muscles we bring upon ourselves in various ways is incredibly important to create a healthy, well-round life in this crazy 24-7 connected way of life.
I finished my RYT-200 hour training program in 2013 and am continuing to purse the 500 hour certification. I’m constantly learning and adapting what works well in the classes I teach, but you can expect plenty of balancing poses, gentle flows, stretching, how to use your breath throughout the practice and carrying that into daily life.
Looking forward to sharing this journey!