I’m the type of person that starts a project and sometimes finishes it. Not all the time, but sometimes. Let’s focus on the times that I do, the sometimes. Because, who doesn’t love a happy ending?
For 15 years, I danced my little behind off learning ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern and tap. I went off to college and found myself leading a dance program for three years just so I could teach and perform what I wanted. As selfish as this was, it was fulfilling for all of us who moved together exploring new styles like belly dance, West African, Korean pop, and swing. I poured myself into the program and watched it flourish over the years. As I neared graduation, I found myself conflicted with my future in dance. I was dedicated all of those years but had never wanted or considered a career in it. I graduated from college and dance disappeared from my life; the end of a passionate journey.
I moved back to Boston, MA inheriting my recently passed grandmother’s 70 year old apartment in a rough neighborhood and a sick mother who was still in mourning. I was prepared for a promotion at my summer job of eight years but soon learned that I would not get it. I had a degree in Economics and no desire to be in finance. I was confused and unprepared. Without a plan b and not a clue what to do next, I became a nanny and focused my energies on my family. I grew angry, resentful and tired.
Depression crept in. I’d begun painting and put it aside. I’d picked up my pencils to sketch and couldn’t calm my mind to draw from my imagination and heart. I didn’t have the energy to finish a single thing besides work. After much tribulation, I put the crafts away and told myself it was time to get it together. There’s nothing good about being a wet towel, heavy and useless. In four months time, I landed a job at a prestigious institution and moved into a new apartment. Although my mother wasn’t much better, she was getting help and I finally felt a sense of “peace.” My finances and living situation were in order, allowing room for me to attack these evils that had rooted themselves within me.
I considered finding a dance school but felt I wasn’t in a space where I would fully enjoy it. I actually started running outdoors. Whenever I got upset, rain or snow, I’d hit the pavement with my sole purpose being to run further than the time before. Months of “anger-runs” led the way to a bad case of shin splints putting me in the gym and on the elliptical. I had abused my knees, hips and ankles as I hadn’t been stretching and was now paying for it tenfold. I needed to establish balance.
I had heard about yoga through my job’s gym and figured it’d help mix up my day in the office if I went during lunch. I was ready to practice and hoped that it would help me stretch and heal while simultaneously calming my spirit the way dance did for me so many years. Plus, the photos of yogis standing on their hands seemed like a pretty cool payoff for a consistent practice. And so, I began, three days a week at 12PM for one hour.
Every class offered the same movements but it always felt brand new. Flowing from downward dog through various asanas (postures), I began to realize that I was fully engulfed in my practice on the mat. As soon as class began, I thought about nothing else. I learned to control my breathing, to calm my mind, and to be thoughtful in my approach. The fruits of these lessons bled into my life off the mat. I was more focused at work, more open when I communicated my needs to my family and friends.
I felt better.
As an east coast gyal who always seems to have A LOT on her plate, I was a hot head and a ticking time bomb. I existed thinking this was normal and acceptable even though this toxic mindset had always been tumultuous and harmful to my community and myself. Once I let yoga take hold of me, I let it lead me, carrying me through each day, cradling me, sometimes too hard and sometimes too soft but all in all, thrusting me forward stronger, wiser and more grounded than ever.
Keep in mind, I’ve stopped and begun yoga numerous times. Stopping was the easiest because giving up is simple, when there’s no money involved. Beginning is hard. It requires commitment and an open mind. I stopped because I “wasn’t being challenged enough” or I was “too tired” and yet every time I began again, I learned the value of simplicity and exhaustion. Yoga has challenged me to commit time and time again. It asks me to put my ego on ice and relax my mind. To be present in the moment I decide to begin my practice and when I let it end.
I am now a Southern California resident, in a town where there is a yoga studio on every block, not too far from your local Starbucks or Pete’s Coffee. Fitness clothing is every day fashion. Conversations about classes are frequent amongst strangers excited to share the gems of their practice. There’s a community here that thrives on sharing their love for the vastness of yoga. Whether practicing Ashtanga, Vinayasa, or Bikram yoga, the experience is a vibration of mindfulness and insight. You’re welcome to join in. You just have to be willing to begin, commit, and surrender to your practice.
Yoga has brought me closer to God, my intuition, my health and surrendering to something larger than myself. For all of the projects I did not finish, I’m glad I’ve stayed true to this one. I’m grateful for running and dance leading me to yoga by force and intention. Today I stand steadfast in my truth, here to share a bit of my journey with you.
If you’re on the fence about yoga, I’m a much more self-possessed person for it. Give it a try. Look for a place close to home, work, school, etc. Go ahead and read the reviews, but keep in mind that opinions vary and no two experiences are alike. Jump from studio to studio until you find your home base. Don’t look for the “best” instructor or the instructor who can do all the cool poses. Be open and stay ready. Start with Vinyasa yoga and dive in. The energy you put into questioning the leap is enough to jump. You may stop somewhere on the journey and that’s cool. But know that you’ll be ready to begin, again. Promise me that.