How I Started Yoga

I used to run, a lot. I started running because I had no idea how to cope with or live with my emotions surrounding infertility. I felt isolated and stifled. We didn’t really have any friends and in my late twenties, I certainly didn’t know how to talk about infertility. I did, kind of. But the conversations were not the norm. It’s not like I would meet someone and say to them “Oh hi, nice to meet you, can I dump my infertility baggage on you because it’s really hard to live with and I just need to talk to someone who will listen.”

I ran because staying inside to exercise was boring. I ran because it worked well with my schedule. And I ran because we lived in Southern California, where the weather was great for running, almost all of the time. I did run in the summer too, just later in the evening or early on the weekends. I didn’t sign up for any races. I just started to love running. I got a gps watch and would track my runs. I made epic playlists for my iPod and let the music motivate and carry me through my runs. It felt so freeing. Sometimes I still wish I ran. And I could. I still like it. But something else came along. Not to replace running. It didn’t replace anything really, it was just exactly what I was looking for when I didn’t think I was looking for anything.

I started yoga with the P90X videos. Anyone remember those, from the early 2000’s? Tony Horton, the goofball fitness instructor who was oddly entertaining and very cheerful and motivating, had this massive set of workout dvd’s that were on infomercial almost every single night. You watch enough of those and eventually you find yourself in a zombie like state, going to the computer with your eyes glazed over, chanting “must buy it”. So I did. I actually loved the workouts and I did them a lot when I wasn’t running. I never did the full 90 day thing, I just did them when I felt like it, and that worked for me. But they were LONG. Really long. I think most of them were at least an hour, so I’d skip the warm up and cool down and eventually I created my own modified versions. About once a week, or when I was actually lightly following the schedule, I did the yoga dvd. It was 90 minutes long, and that was tough! I remember feeling like a wobbling idiot, but I really liked it. I didn’t work out in front of a mirror, so I have no idea what I looked like. The first 45 minutes was more like a power yoga class, and then next 45 minutes had balancing, stretching, and savasana (the rest at the end). I got to the point where I summed it up to an hour. I did the power yoga, skipped the balancing (because I thought it was lame!), did some of the stretching and the rest at the end. And then I started just doing the first 45 minutes and called it good. I did not consider myself a yogi or as someone who “did yoga”. It was just a dvd I did from time to time, and it happened to be yoga.

In 2010 we moved and I kept running. I think I started running in 2008. I actually signed up for a half marathon. Running helped clear my head. It kept me sane. I was in good shape because of it. I also felt really empowered. I could push myself to run further or I could just run as long of a distance that felt good. Then I ran the half marathon, and that ruined running for me. It didn’t ruin it because I got injured, or because I didn’t like it. I knew, in order to keep running, I’d have to sign up for another race. And another race, and another race, and another race. And I just didn’t feel like paying to run! One of the great things I loved about running is that it didn’t cost anything. Just some minimal equipment ($80-100 shoes about every 4-6 months) and really that was it! So when I got addicted to wanting to race, I felt like it was time to stop. I did keep running for a little bit longer, maybe for a few more months, I can’t really remember.

After the race was over, I had some more time in my schedule. I wasn’t training rigorously, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep running for. Somehow it lost it’s spark, it’s magic, after I ran the race. I’m not sure why. I drove by a local yoga studio a lot. They had a banner out front for the first month unlimited for $30. Ok, that’s not free, but it’s less than a gym membership, so I gave it a try.

I had a really crappy yoga mat, but at least I had one. The only yoga I knew was what I had learned from Tony Horton on the P90X yoga dvd. I felt like I knew enough, and had good enough body awareness, to do yoga just fine. I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t a total novice so that helped. Plus I really wanted to try it. I had heard it was good for stress reduction, and a good way to exercise. Running had lost some of it’s appeal so it was time to give something else a try.

I don’t remember much about the first class I took. I don’t think it was a beginner’s class but it could have been. I don’t remember the teacher. I don’t remember what day it was, or what time of the day the class was. I know the studio I went to, but that’s all I remember. Well, almost all I remember. We probably did a bunch of traditional poses. My form was probably all over the place. I’m sure my sun salutations were cringe worthy to the seasoned practitioner. The room had no mirrors so I have no idea what I looked like, and I didn’t care.

What I DO remember about that class, is when I woke up from savasana, something had awakened inside of me. I had a profound experience, maybe spiritually, maybe with my higher self, maybe just because I was actually breathing intentionally. I KNEW without a doubt, that yoga was going to be a part of my life now. It’s like I was reminded of something I had always know. It was familiar to me even though I knew little to nothing about it. I sat up, and clearly had this thought “I am going to teach this one day”.

That was in 2010. It was another 6 years until I took my yoga teacher training. I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me. Yoga is so vast, so expansive, such a massive topic, that everything I get on my mat or read one of my books or go to a workshop or lecture, I feel like I’m starting over and learning it again for the very first time. I hope it always feels that way.