My Personal Yoga Journey

About 10 years ago, when my mind/life was an utter mess, yoga scooped me up, and quite literally gave me a home. The studio where I began my practice in Pittsburgh is named The Yoga H’om.

The result of yet another divine Google search: I was browsing through magazines at a news agent downtown on my lunch break and randomly picked up Yoga Journal. I can’t remember if I bought it or not.

What I know for sure is that I did a Google search of Pittsburgh Yoga studios when I got back to my desk. I found The Yoga H’om  situated midway on my commute home from work, I didn’t even need to go out my way to get there.

I stopped THAT day on my way home from work and asked if it was okay to start practicing. I asked because the only class available that would work with my schedule was certainly not for beginners, it was instead Ashtanga Primary Series. It is just as well that I didn’t know what that meant at that time.

The owner said why not give it shot. I came back on Thursday and so it began.

Ashtanga is tough, rigorous, and demanding and it was most definitely up to the task, it got my “thought box” to shut up enough to listen and for that I will be forever grateful. It was if Yoga knew exactly what I needed and Yoga has been working on me ever since.

I felt stiff, heavy, clumsy and awkward. I thought I could think my way out. I closed my eyes and practiced anyway.

My mat became a place of refuge, a source of comfort, but Yoga also has challenged me in many uncomfortable ways, starting with my lack of flexibility. It has since made me strong yet flexible, in body and in mind.

It has often been a battle of wills between my body and my mind—sometimes I am sure that it has been similar to a mother dragging a screaming two-year old behind her during the midst of a horrible tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.

At the beginning of my yoga practice, I often felt like an imposter, an imposition to other people’s practice. I hid in the back corner, far away from the mirror, I wouldn’t even change into my yoga clothes at the studio, I snuck in and out the door.

Apparently “feeling like an imposter” is common enough that it is now considered a syndrome and while it is still something I struggle with I am working on it.

I have come a long way. Especially considering that I now sit in front of the class teaching yoga to others.

As it turns out, I also feel a bit of an imposter teaching others about Labor and  Childbirth, but more on that later. Let’s go back to the beginning.

I would take my screaming and kicking two-year old self into yoga class and my body would practice, my mind would give up nagging about 2/3’s of the way through class after it was forced to admit that not only could I practice, I had been practicing, and furthermore I enjoyed practicing.

My “think box” shut off and I would then spend the remaining 1/3 of the class in blissful silence. This moment kept me coming back daily to my mat for years—and it totally changed me into a different person.

I am still sitting on the very same mat today. It's family.

Yoga turned me into a teacher, a studio owner, a doula, and Yoga keeps me on a path of creating my own versions of where, what, and how to live, practice, and teach. It makes sense and works for me and that is what matters most.

When I sit comfortably on my mat, am sure of what I teach, and have direct experience in the practices then I am comfortable sharing my knowledge with others. Mostly.

This quiet approach also works for some of the people who stumble upon my studio, The Yoga Whole. A little hole in the wall Yoga joint. The crowds may always go elsewhere but I am more than okay with that. 

I teach what I teach to the students that cross my path. If you let it, this approach will win you over and will work for you as well.

One of my Prenatal Yoga mom’s called out to me across the produce at Trader Joe’s the other day. She wanted to thank me. She had come to the studio hoping for a kinder gentler birth experience different than what she had experienced with her first child. I am glad to hear that she did. She told me that she kept hearing my voice in her head telling her to relax and let go, so she did and it really helped.

Yes my mind still screams and kicks. Apparently it is just my mind being my mind— negatively yammering on, mostly about my abilities and desire to teach, practice, and own a small business.

My mind kicks and screams, but I keep teaching, practicing and owning. I preserver on until the voice that knows what to say and where to go next comes out whether it is about teaching, supporting others, or keeping the studio doors open.

Because the truth is that I very much do care—I care that if you come through my doors you get the best practice that I can give to you in a beautiful and calm space.

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