How Yoga Changed My Life

Yoga PicIt was 10 years ago yesterday,  that I walked into my first yoga class. It was my 34th birthday and I thought I would start something new each year on my birthday. I wanted to start some sort  of ritual of trying something new.  I equated it to the newness like we experience at birth.  Having read about the benefits of yoga and hearing that it was a great way to get in shape I thought I would give it a try.  Needless to say knowing nothing about yoga at that point I walked into a new class….. a Bikram class.  Now anyone who knows anything about a Bikram yoga class knows that it is very challenging.  The room is heated to around 100 degrees, the class is 90 minutes long and there are 26 yoga poses laid out in a very specific sequence.  The moment I entered the room panic sank in.  I thought for sure that I was not able to breathe and that I was having a heart attack….and I was not even moving at that point.  I kept thinking If I could just turn and run through the door I would be better off.   You see I was not all that healthy at that point in my life.  I worked out at the gym doing the standard weight training and some cardio sequences,  I smoked cigarettes, ate the Standard American Diet (in high-end foodie style) drank  alcohol on a very regular basis, and worked a very stressful jet-setting career. Needless to say and got my ass handed to me that day.

I felt humiliated and out of shape.  Fear and doubt ruled my body.  I was challenged.  My desire to have what everyone else in that room had was greater than my fear. I had made up my mind….What I  really wanted was to have that great looking fit yoga body!  I decided I would return the very next day. ……I tried a new class… was called “Morning Wake Up Yoga ” .  The room was still heated but we practiced new sequences and did a lot more meditating.   My teacher Bob was a really entertaining teacher and made the time fly by.  I was hooked.  Every day that I was in town I went back to class.

One day in class really stands out to me.  I distinctly remember  when Bob told his story of how his life was “before yoga” and how it transformed him emotionally and spiritually.  I so related to his story of pain  and  I so wanted to be free of anxiety, and stress, I wanted to find peace……Plus I really wanted to achieve that yoga body!

Two months of a semi-regular yoga practice  went by.  One day it occurred to me  and I said to myself “this is my last cigarette.”  I smoked it being fully present and aware as the smoke and nicotine entered my body….. and it hit me….I thought what the f*** am I doing to my body?  I quit that day.  It was the first time I connected  my breath to my body outside of class.  I felt alive.  I felt alive because I breathe.

I was able to overcome anxiety attacks, change my attitude and find peace. It wasn’t until I started my YogaFit teacher training that that ugly feeling of being fat and out of shape and getting out of my comfort zone and feeling  as if I did not have a clue as to what I was doing.  I felt like didn’t belong. How could that be?  I had been practicing yoga for on again and off again for many years and had such a deep desire to become a yoga teacher.  Again Fear…..fear of the commitment and what it would take to become a teacher… the  fear of not fitting the “yoga” image of having a great fit looking body……the fear of not being “good enough”.  WTF was going on? It really hit me on the first day of my level 2 training.  My husband suggested even though the class was only 1 1/2 hours away from our home I should just stay at a hotel for the night and focus on my YogaFit training for the weekend.  I left day one of teacher training and sat in the parking lot and cried.  I was wiped out.  I felt like the practice nearly killed me as I could not do all of the poses in their full versions and had to go to the modified version most of the time and even then I still  felt like it was very challenging.  If I could not do the poses how in the HELL was I going to teach them?  I called my husband sobbing like a broken-hearted 14 year old little girl.  He asked me if I wanted to just come home and just forget about it.  I immediately said no.  I knew I was outside of my comfort zone and I knew that in order to grow as a person I had to do this.  I also knew that with a regular practice I could improve my strength I could become a teacher if I attended classes, studied, and learned how.

I completed my training nearly three years ago and now I am a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a Certified Personal Trainer and a Health Coach.  My latest  “get out of my comfort zone” challenge is ……..Taekwondo.

Today I am grateful for what yoga has taught me as I travel through this journey called life.  Every day I have the opportunity to become more aware, move out of my comfort zone, love and accept my fears, and work through my personal challenges……….on and off the mat.   Wow how things can change in a decade!

Have you had a similar experience?  Please feel free to share in the comments it below.