My yoga journey began eighteen or so years ago, when I was a gym addict in a perpetual hurry. At seven months pregnant, I couldn’t haul myself to the gym, so I bought a prenatal yoga video. I thought yoga was what people who couldn’t work out did for exercise. As soon as I could, I got back to the gym. I was uninspired.
A few years later I was once again back on the hamster wheel, in a perpetual hurry. The public relations firm I worked for took some compensation in trade, and I was given a class card to a yoga studio. I managed to find the one class at the studio that wasn’t yoga – a lunchtime “quick thirty minute abs” class. The studio owner, Jolie Parcher from Mandala Yoga in Amagansett, New York, asked, wouldn’t I like to try her yoga class? It was my account. I was stuck. So I went.
Sixteen years and hundreds and hundreds of hours on the mat later, I’m still grateful for this wonderful teacher, my first yoga teacher. She taught me to breathe! That is huge! She was gentle but consistent in imparting yoga philosophy and some of the things she said took years to sink in. But they did.
That’s not to say I totally “got it” yet. I remember the front desk person saying “Lexie, you are always the first person to run out of class.” I’m busy, I thought, annoyed. I don’t have all day to kvetch with the other yoga ladies. By now I was running my own PR business.
I got it enough to stay with it. I kept practicing, sometimes fitfully, sometimes faithfully. Still skewing towards the physical over the spiritual. But showing up on the mat.
The next great teacher I had was Dharma Richards. Dharma was just opening Yoga Garden Apex, about ten years ago. Her beautiful calm spirit shone through her teaching. Her classes were a beautiful expression of the physical and the spiritual in perfect concert.
I went through a hard time in my life when I was attending her classes at Yoga Garden. Sometimes just getting to the classes would make me cry with relief. Sometimes during that time I felt I couldn’t breathe. I would go to class to breathe. But her classes took my practice to another level. I began my daily home practice around that time. I was learning to quiet my mind. I was starting to get it.
Dharma’s teacher training is called Live Your Yoga. I’m starting to understand what that means. I can’t wait to take Dharma’s teacher training in the fall. And here we are, collaborating on a new yoga studio! We are blessed with wonderful teachers at Yoga Garden PBO.
Yoga has been one of the most important if not the most important conduits to physical and mental wellness in my life. Yoga can simply be a wonderfully healthy gift to your body. And if you are open to it, it can also gently guide you towards spiritual awakening. Wherever you are in life and whatever your motivation, I truly believe in the power of yoga to heal and transform.
What’s the story of your yoga journey? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below, or even write your story and we’ll feature it on this blog. Namaste.