Self-Study: Looking Back

In class recently we were asked to recall our first experiences with yoga. Mine was in a Unitarian Church on a school night (I was 16) with my best friend. We were both intrigued by this thing called yoga, which neither of us had ever experienced; small town Iowa didn’t have a blossoming yoga community at the time. I remember how everything felt foreign to me, the instruction on how to move your body, the instruction on how to move your breath so it sounded like the ocean (I didn’t learn the word ujjayi until years later), the smell of incense in the air and most importantly, the feelings that came up during the whole experience, especially in savasana. My first savasana was the closest I had ever felt to being connected to the world around me; the spiritual energy was intoxicating. I remember walking out of the church into a cold winter Iowa night and feeling awake and conscious to the world around me in a way I had never felt before. That night I knew that yoga would change my life, because I had just felt it coursing through every fiber of my being and I felt alive.

Fast-forward 13 years and yoga is a huge part of my life. What’s funny is that I still get those spine-tingling moments after all these years. My yoga experience, to use yet another cliché metaphor, has been like an onion, I keep peeling back the layers and there are more underneath. I feel like every layer is revealed to me at the time I most need to receive it. When I was first introduced to yoga I practiced asana, and then transitioned to power yoga when I needed more of a physical outlet. When I was seeking a spiritual path I was introduced to a studio that focused in the concepts of yoga as presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Over the last 6 months, as I’ve had many ups and downs I’ve been seeking out a way to feel more balance and moments of quiet in my life. I had never really practiced Sadhana before Axis, but over the last 12 weeks practicing mediation in combination with specific breath techniques I have experienced some powerful moments of stillness that have allowed me to find more moments of quiet throughout my day and to go back to my breathe when I’m feeling myself starting to tip off balance. I don’t think it is an accident that I started a yoga teacher training program at the same time that my life is being turned upside down and I’m having to reevaluate who it is I am and what it is I want. The sense of calm and peace that yoga has brought into my life is perfectly timed with the insanity that my life has become. Further proof that my life lessons and experiences unfold as the time is right for me to accept them.