Sunday, June 5, 2011

follow me on my journey

I've done it. I've really done it. I'm going back to school. To become a yoga teacher.

Let me start at the beginning. Five years ago, I took my first yoga class. I was 21 years old, living in that small, clinically clean, doctor town known as Rochester, Minnesota, muscling through an internship at the local newspaper. It was a hot, July night. I don't know what led me to that studio - perhaps a lingering interest in a fitness routine that seemed more manageable to someone like me. I was very lonely in that town, so there's a very good chance I took the class because I thought I'd meet a few young, limber people to befriend.

After my first class, nothing earth shattering happened. The teacher of the class invited me to go camping with her friends over the weekend. It thrilled me to be accepted into a group of people so quickly. But I never went camping.

I spent the next four and half years looking for a yoga studio like the one I found in Rochester. While I enjoyed the mental and physical health benefits of the practice, I wanted to find that sense of community I had stumbled upon in southern Minnesota. In my attempts, which were usually several months apart, I would try a new studio, using the free week they offered, or buying a punch card or just dropping into a class.

A big part of yoga is practicing non-judgement for both others and yourself. You're also supposed to focus on "staying on your own mat" while you're taking a class. These are two very, very hard things for me to master. So after a few classes, I would usually stop attending because I felt like I didn't fit in with the clientele. I wanted that sense of community so badly, and I couldn't find it.

About four months ago, I stopped looking for it. I stopped making excuses for not practicing yoga. I knew I needed it. I kept thinking about it. I changed my reason for doing yoga. Simply put, I re-started doing yoga just for the sake of doing yoga. To feel my body move, to engage my brain in a different way, to feel my breath and to practice the mantra branded on the back of my neck: Just Be.

I started a three-week, daily practice, yoga challenge offered on Yoga Journal's website. Just before the program ended, I found myself in a book store, buying yoga magazines and books, eager to keep this going. Somehow. I didn't have the money to take the classes, but I could afford a book.

So, using this book, I started learning new poses, practicing meditation, learning breathing techniques. The more I practiced yoga, the hungrier I became for more knowledge. More history. I found myself dropping certain foods out of my diet, avoiding certain beverages, and carrying myself differently throughout the day. I became less angry when things didn't go my way. I started to let things go before I could even grab on. Not all the time, but just frequently enough to notice the impact.

After a couple of months of developing a beautiful home practice routine in my little green walk-in closet. I bought additional props and started shopping around for a studio. In all my google searches, I kept finding myself clicking on links to teacher training programs. I'm not good enough at yoga to teach it, I would say to myself as I clicked the link. But wouldn't it be cool to learn tons of things about yoga, maybe not to teach right away, but at least to have a broader understanding of this powerful practice that has made a significant impact in my life in such a short amount of time?

In the last couple of weeks, I've met with different yoga teachers, teacher trainers, studio owners and practitioners. One of the conversations was so meaningful, I started weeping right outside the Dunn Bros. in Hudson, Wisconsin. After doing my research, like the good little journalism grad that I am, I found a program that clicked. It felt right. I met with the program director and in that annoying, hippie, energetic sense, I just felt it. I knew I had to enroll in the next nine-month course and continue on this journey.

My classes start in July, and I'd like to share my journey with you. I've had so many moments in recent months that I wish I would have written down so that some day I can look back and smile on where I've been, and remember the day I kicked up into my first headstand, or the time I was able to quiet my mind for five whole minutes. Join me?

Away we go...

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