Why I Do Yoga

I fell in love with yoga half way through a swan dive down to forward fold. It was some morning in the spring of 2002. I ended up in that yoga class because I wasn’t able to find a tactful way out. As a member of She and Company, a gym in Brickyard plaza, I was a regular attendee at a Tuesday morning toning class. This was one of those classes that takes you a half hour to set up – a step, a bar, a set of plates, weights in three sizes, a band – you get the idea. The instructor, Krissy, had been kicking my ass for weeks and one day after class she invited me to take her yoga class. Yoga???? Are you kidding me? I’m a hard body!!! I do REAL EXERCISE!! I had zero interest in contemplating my navel in a yoga class. With a bunch of patchouli-scented hippies. What was Krissy doing teaching yoga anyway? She wasn’t even a vegetarian. But I did want her to like me. So I said yes and figured one yoga class wouldn’t kill me. Maybe I’d even get a nap in.

That’s how I found myselfnew to yoga on a gym-loaned mat in a dim room listening to peaceful music and doing yoga.  I just hoped nobody saw me on my way in. We sat for a while and breathed. Wow, breathing. Yeah, I’ve been doing THAT since I was a minute old. Then we waved our arms around for a while. Then we stood up into mountain pose. And then it happened. We swan-dived down into forward fold. My hands naturally flowed out to the side and around and reached for the floor. Four years of ballet with Hubert Farrington yelling at me when I was 8 years old had provided excellent form and grace. That, and good genes from my mother who was a professional dancer.

So halfway down it clicked. OMG, this was something like graceful. Something like a flow. Something like art. I can do this. And I was hooked. Right in that moment. I went from “Yoga is stupid” to “I have to do this”. After that, you couldn’t keep me away. It was partially that I was decent at it. Built to be flexible and having worked to be strong, I was fortunate to be able to skip the phase where I figured out whether I was the right body type for yoga (short answer, if you have a body, you can do yoga but that’s not where my head was in those days). I loved the stillness of it. The way I could shut everything else out and just be present to what I was doing.

Yoga calls to me a in a way that nothing else does. I’ve been an athlete my entire life. Skiing at age 3, dance classes at 6, gymnastics at 11, cross country running at 15, swimming somewhere in there. I was a gym-rat in college (it was the 80s and yes I owned several pairs of leg-warmers). I ran, I lifted weights. But nothing I’d never experienced anything like yoga. It had the grace of ballet combined with the hard sweat of lifting. The floating of swimming with the heart pounding push of running. It was elegance and toughness all at the same time. It was art.  I’m not always as consistent as I’d like. My interest waxes and wanes, but never goes away completely. I always find my way back. And the waning phases are now shorter. Yoga is now a part of who I am rather than something I do. I may not get on my mat on a given day, but I guarantee that yoga has informed some part of what I did do that day.

People come to yoga for all kinds of reasons. I recently had a student say to me “I think yoga was hidden inside me”, which I thought was so incredibly apt. Yoga is inside all of us. It’s waiting there to be discovered.

 

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