In December of 1999, my friend Emily gave me a yoga mat and passes to free classes for Christmas. I broke out in tears, terrified at the prospect of trying something new. It took a few months, but I finally agreed to attend a class with her.
During the class, I realized I had the legs of a dachshund and the arms of a chimpanzee. Also, my hips were not wired for lotus and this meant I was emotionally blocked. Forward folds were brilliant but many of the other postures felt like cloaks of failure and humiliation. I made it through, but am fairly certain I cried again that night.
In spite of my cruel inner dialogue, I took a handful of classes over the next few years, but didn’t truly connect with the practice until completing a marathon in 2003. Suffering from post-marathon ennui, I attended a three session meditation workshop at Midtown Yoga Center.
Several rounds of the Gayatri Mantra and a few more months of classes convinced me that yoga was a good fit for me. I began to see the benefit in practicing poses that felt confusing and uncomfortable, breathing deeply, paying close attention to and honoring my body and mind as they were in each moment. Over a decade later, I continue to appreciate these opportunities each time I come to the mat to practice or teach.
After I completed teacher training and many of my yoga teacher friends embraced Ashtanga or Yin or Jivamukti yoga, I floated from class to class and style to style, unwilling to pick just one. I developed a deep respect for my friends who were focused in specific schools of yoga, but I wanted to understand the range of options and be able to guide students toward the practice that seemed right for them based on their current lifestyle and goals.
Through extensive study, I’ve learned that yoga, when practiced from a place of sincerity, is transformational. There are as many yogic paths as there are people. Each student of yoga must begin where they are in this moment. Breath awareness is crucial to a safe, life-long exploration of the eight limbs of yogic philosophy.
These are some of the truths I bring to every class I teach, and it is my privilege to have the opportunity to explore these truths with members of the BYH community.
It has been lovely getting to know Sarah, Henri, and a few of the other wonderful people that choose to practice here. My hope is to meet more of you in the coming weeks, and to offer you the chance to explore styles of yoga that will complement your current practice.
Please join me Sunday evening for the deep, meditative Yin class to stretch in a new way. Try the heated Hatha on Monday mornings to center your body and mind as the week begins. Check out hot vinyasa on Tuesdays and Thursdays and learn how to find the playful side of asana in a way that prevents injury.
Meanwhile, enjoy your practice and I’ll see you on the mat!