My yoga journey started about the time I was six years old, twirling around in a dance studio in Hawaii. Something about wearing sparkly pink tutus spoke to me, and I was hooked. As I got older, I grew to love the artful strength that came with mastering the movements. It also became a sense of therapy, a way to calm my mind after school and bring my attention to a more physical focus. I had never been very athletically inclined in the more traditional team sports, but, as the challenges of dance became harder I quickly realized that it was as much of a physical and mental outlet.
I loved dance so much that when I went off to college, I intentionally decided on a school that had a great dance program in case I chose to pursue it as a career. I found myself heading across the country, just as nervous about surviving my first real winter as I was for the actual classes. Somewhere in the midst of trying to find my academic passion, my to dance had fallen to the wayside. It wasn’t until my final semester, when I enrolled in my first dance class in three years, that I was reminded of the beauty and the strength behind working within your own body. I had truly missed it.
After graduating, I moved back home without any plan for what I wanted to do with my life. I quickly picked up anything that came along, including a front desk job at a Bikram yoga studio. It was mainly a way to make some extra money alongside my unpaid internship, and the static, militaristic style of Bikram didn’t appeal to the fluid moving dancer within me. Nevertheless, I found myself intrigued by the culture within the studio. There was a sense of calm and community within the space, and the teachers always seemed to have a genuine smile.
A few months later I started at a new job, and shortly afterwards I found myself unable to continue at the yoga studio. I saw it as a good thing – my career was growing! Another two years later it continued to grow under a large corporation with lots of promise and opportunities. The longer I was at that job, the more I realized how much I disliked the corporate business model. It came with stress, anxiety, and pressure. Though many of my coworkers continued to compliment my calm and collected demeanor, I knew internally that my mentality had shifted to focusing more on the negatives.
In an effort to relieve some stress, I started going back to yoga classes, opting for a variety of ashtanga, heated vinyasa, and power yoga. Getting back on my mat made me realize how important it is to take time for yourself and both your mental and physical health. I wanted to be able to focus on some of the more positive things I felt I had lost touch with, and decided it was time to leave my job.
So, once again, I packed up and moved across the country, without a plan for what to do next. After taking some time off to travel and reflect, I was reminded of the happy yoga teachers I had worked with years before. I had always wondered what their secret was, and figured that now was my chance to find out. I started looking into yoga teacher training programs, and being a thoroughly indecisive person, found myself going in circles. By some passing, completely radical idea, I started looking into programs in India. “If you’re going to do it, do it big!” I thought excitedly to myself as I signed up for the course and booked the ticket. A few weeks later I found myself at the airport, passport (and shady online visa) in hand, questioning if I had really thought it through or not.
In all honesty, the moment I landed I wanted to turn around and leave. It was too much, what was I thinking?! However, I managed to get into the cab (for a thoroughly terrifying taxi ride full of dodging monkeys and noticeably missing lane lines) and arrived at the place I would call home for the next month.
By the time four weeks had passed, I had a greater understanding of the various aspects of yoga, and a new appreciation for the culture surrounding it. We had explore different types of meditation, discussed anatomy, touched upon philosophy, and learned hands on how to properly conduct a class (if you would like to hear more in-depth or have any questions about my experience in India please feel free to email me as noted below!). I was lucky to have gone through the course with a wonderful group of people, and felt confident in my skills as a newly certified teacher. I have spent most of my time since then continuing to travel, and teaching where and when I can.
As for the “secret” to the happiness that I had noticed years before, I don’t think there’s any single universal answer. In my case, as I continue along my yoga journey, I have found that feeling good from the inside out and being able to pass on the practice to others through a yoga class will always put a smile on my face.
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