It wasn’t until 1998, when I very reluctantly took a yoga class because my aerobics class had been canceled, that I found my way back to the mat. I had almost completely forgotten about those days in front of our massive television set encased in wood cabinetry. In my mind, yoga was for hippies and grannies. Boy, was I wrong.
That re-introduction was tough. Not only was I thoroughly unprepared, as was the rest of the class, our teacher was channeling Bobby Knight and slinging harassing statements at us left and right as we struggled to maintain balance in tree pose, keep our hips square in Warrior 1, and reach our toes in forward fold. We were pathetic. And I loved it. I had not been so physically challenged since I’d taken karate in college. I was an exercise junkie. I’d tried every fitness fad that came to Los Angeles, but because I thought yoga would be easy, I avoided it like the plague.
Luckily, my determination to master Half Moon and King Dancer had me practicing yoga almost daily for several months. I found a local yoga studio for guidance and invested in some books for self-study. Before long, I was doing Headstands and Wheels with aplomb. But then something remarkable happened. One night, after a vigorous session at home, I was lying in Savasana and listening to Madonna’s Ray of Light when I suddenly found myself floating in space. Yes, I was still firmly planted on my bedroom floor, but my mind had tapped into some other world. A world filled with peace and serenity where ideas took flight, and fear, worry and suffering disappeared. I was free, if only for a few minutes.
I related my out of body experience to a friend of mine who was an astrophysicist. He scoffed, saying I must have placed myself under some sort of self-hypnosis. But I knew there was more to it. So, I started reading more books on yoga. Not on the physical practice of yoga, but on the spiritual aspects of yoga. Wow. What a world opened up to me then! I came to discover that the asanas, the physical postures, are only a small part of yoga. Yoga is a philosophy, a spirituality. An avenue to the true Self. Not only was a yoga practice beneficial to my body, but to my mind and spirit as well.
Since that day, I have been on a journey of self-exploration. I’ve attended several retreats, I’ve gotten certified to teach, I’ve studied the Bagavad Gita, I’ve added meditation to my practice, and I’ve come to realize that I will never fully appreciate all that yoga is. Every day brings a new surprise, a new discovery. And that’s why I keep practicing, keep studying, keep going to retreats. Because there’s always more to learn, more to inspire me, more to enlighten me.
And just like when I was rolling around on the floor with my mom all those years ago, yoga is playtime. It’s a chance to be free and do silly things and discover secrets trapped in my subconscious. Yoga is so many things, and I’ve only scratched the surface of all its wonder. I can’t wait to find out what yoga has to teach me today.
How about you? Do you practice yoga? How did yoga find you?