Becoming a yogini...
In some ways my journey into yoga came out of the blue. In others it's as if the universe has been calling me to it for a long time. It was my husband, 8 years ago, when I was in my mid-20s, who made an off hand comment once about how I should go take a yoga class. It was an incredibly stressful time for me, I had that pitta fire burning inside driving me tenaciously towards my goal of climbing the "corporate" ladder.
I didn't work in the kind of corporation most people imagine at that expression, but I was still incredibly driven to reach the top. So this first time my new husband, an engineer, expressed this softness, I scoffed. I've always been naturally flexible, no need for an hour of "stretching", plus I was much more into running, soccer, and weight lifting back then. You know the all American version of sport for releasing endorphins and "relaxation." I, like many westerners, had this view of yoga being weak, simple stretching, and somewhat useless.
As the years progressed I had a significant injury playing soccer, which I would later find probably came about due to my improper foot strike while running. I then followed that up with deciding to pick up a piece of furniture that was too heavy for me during our move to New Mexico. It resulted in improper lifting and a low back injury that instantly caused pain that would not go away. Then I developed a swollen nerve in my foot. An injury the podiatrist said was brought on by improper running technique. That it would persist for life and result in surgery some day. Still I kept doing what I was doing. Running, weight lifting, and sitting at a desk all day followed by ample couch-asana at night.
The injuries slowly compounded upon each other until I found a version of sciatica. At first on the right side, then the left, all the while accompanied by loss in flexibility and pain all across the lower back. It was finally persistent enough I went to a doctor. After a full work up she sent me to physical therapy. They diagnosed piriformis syndrome likely brought on by the improper lift injury and exacerbated by my desk job. They had me stretch a lot and build strength. Massages and electro therapies, all to loosen my back and hamstrings up enough that I could function. At the end of it I had the pain reduced to about 20% of where I started, I felt good and insurance had run out. The therapist recommended I get a personal trainer and stay in motion.
So that's what I did. I enlisted the help of a fantastic personal trainer. She taught me how to run properly, be aware during every lift no matter how heavy, and to make time to stretch before and after workouts. It was great yet there was still that lingering pain. The gym I became a member of to train with my trainer offered classes. I really wanted my husband to work out with me. So he looked at the classes and said lets go to yoga on a Saturday. We did and we made it a weekly ritual for about 2 years. Sometimes I would go to class and the pain would subside for a day or two. Other times I would go and it would be worse.
During all this time I was just getting used to working at a new firm, and realizing I didn't really care for my profession. Over a year in and I was just beginning to break the shell on some of the hardened staff and making them friends. As I started talking to one of them I found out she was an avid yogini who suffers from scoliosis, yoga is the only thing that helps her. She told me that practicing it shouldn't ever hurt and I probably just needed better training. She recommended I go to High Desert Yoga. I knew she was right the minute she said it.
I had been trying to figure out what else I could do besides being an architect. I had gone so far as to test waters by taking community college classes in IT and accounting, things I'm good at, but not things that truly fill my cup. So, I started looking at trainings and saw all the different kinds of yoga out there. I talked with my co-worker some more and she gave me the best advice:
"Just keep it simple, learn hatha yoga first, then add the other styles if you want. Even if you don't teach taking a training will help your back forever."
I hopped on the internet and realized High Desert Yoga was about to start a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher training. It was kismet. I signed up, paid the deposit, and didn't think twice about it. I hadn't even tried a class there before I decided to take the plunge. It sounds crazy now, but I just had a gut feeling, I just knew. I knew that it was going to, at a minimum, relieve my pain and at most help me find out more about myself.
I didn't know a lot about the philosophy then, but I knew from a Buddhism class I took in college that yoga and Buddhism are both related to Hinduism. The last time I had found myself was just after taking that course on Buddhism. Since the training said it would also discuss philosophy (another love of mine) I hoped that perhaps yoga might offer more than just physical relief.
I had no clue just how impactful that apparently out of the blue impulsive decision would be. High Desert Yoga teacher training changed my life. After the first week the pain in my back and foot disappeared. I didn't have answers for my future, but I had a clarity of mind I had never before experienced. My meditations became fruitful. I was, I am hooked. Yoga is incredibly powerful. It teaches you how to listen to and nourish your body and through the process allows you access to a centered mind-space.
The mat gives to you what you bring to it. It sounds silly but it's true. I can explain and explain for you here on my website how wonderful and life expanding yoga is, but it will pale in comparison to really experiencing and feeling it. The best I can do is to share my time and practice with you...
...and since you're here you already know where to find me. So when you are ready, just let me know and we'll share some mat time together.
Namaste - rp