My Yoga Story
How did you get into yoga?
In 1995, before I got my first teaching job, I worked as an aide in a fun private school where my job was to play with the kids and help them with their work. One of the moms I got to know was a yoga teacher who invited me to her class. After that first yoga class, she told me that I did a great job coordinating my breathing with my movements. From that moment, I knew that yoga was not just about the poses. I kept going to her classes at various locations until I moved away. After
My oldest child was born having sustained a traumatic birth injury due to lack of oxygen which caused profound cerebral palsy with a variety of related complications such as seizures, tube feeding, severe reflux, and the inability to speak, walk, sit, crawl, etc. It was intense trying to nurse or bottle feed him because it was so hard for him to coordinate it all. He cried a lot more than a typical baby and did not sleep without crazy positional accommodations. I remember, though, when I could get him down for a morning nap, I would go to my room and do what I remembered of a sun salutation – mentally repeating phrases I associated with each pose. For example, in raising the arms up, I might look upward asking for “help”; I folded forward thinking “I surrender”; in a lunge “I am brave”; in lowering from plank “I am strong”; and as I lifted my chest forward and upward “I am open.” After the sun salutation, I would sit and listen – a practice that I would later learn was meditation. This practice was so important to my sanity during those early days. It gave me some peace in an otherwise very difficult time. My son is now 15 and I still use my yoga practice to help me endure the challenges that he/we face with an openness and bravery I might not have otherwise had without yoga.
What might your life be like if you had not found yoga?
That’s a scary thought. I needed yoga to survive those years without losing my mind or my marriage. Once I had a couple more kids and they got a little older, I was able to start going to classes again which helped me be a calmer and happier mom and wife. When trying to help my nonverbal child who was crying hysterically for reasons I couldn’t understand, I could imagine hearing my yoga teacher’s voice reminding me to focus on the breath when life puts us into uncomfortable positions. Learning how to do this saved me from bursts of desperation.
How does your quality of life compare now compared to pre-yoga?
During the time that I had more babies, my yoga practice slipped (imagine that!) and I became less aware in general. When I finally was able to re-connect with yoga, that dedicated practice awakened or revealed consciousness that wasn’t as accessible before. I felt more alive with a renewed sense of purpose. That being said, my practice still slips sometimes, but that’s ok – I just find a way to step back in. That might be different each time – a class, a workshop, a meditation challenge, breathing exercises in the car, signing up for a teacher training, etc.
What parts of the yoga practice have benefited you most?
I would say that what benefits me most is when there are multiple aspects of a yoga practice going on in my life at the same time for an extended period and with the support of others. This is why I love teacher training programs and I’ve done three of them so far – being immersed in the poses, breathing, meditation, subtle body and yoga philosophy with others is deeply transformative and crucial for my spiritual growth and understanding.
Why did you decide to do yoga teacher training and eventually become a yoga teacher?
As an adult, I first was an art teacher, and then a teacher of technology to other teachers. The idea of teaching yoga felt fairly natural to me, so the only thing holding me back was committing to the program from a time and finances perspective. Fortunately, I had a good friend encourage me to do it – “we’ll have the time of our lives” she said. Her words gave me the courage to commit and I’m so grateful that I did – it was a wonderful decision. Even if I didn’t want to teach after the training, I would have gained immense knowledge and been opened up to so many new ideas and wonderful people in the program. Now that I am a teacher, it keeps me constantly working to consciously exercise this blend of physical and spiritual in a creative way – which is really good for me. And hopefully it’s good for my students too.
~ Interview from World Peace Yoga