On and Off the Mat Yoga
Would it surprise you to know that I hated my first yoga class? I took it in February 2007 and I honestly could not understand what all the fuss was about. A month later, I had a spiritual experience that changed the trajectory of my life. Six months, after my first yoga class, I took my second yoga class and fell in love. A year after that, on a hot August day, I held my first 200 hour yoga certificate in my hands. And six months later I began teaching. And that was 10 years ago.
I’ve learned a lot in my personal yoga journey as well as the journey of teaching others.
Sometimes it’s confounding to know that I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years. And that I’m physically 10 years older. I’ve taught yoga in many different spaces and places, with many different communities and have met countless folks as a result of this passion and desire for unity.
I’ve learned that I could stand to love others more on my mat after a particularly sweaty hot vinyasa class while I still lived in the desert. I’ve learned how to laugh with one of my favorite teachers, who is also a mentor, business partner and friend. Eight years ago, in one of his packed classes, we were in wheel pose (Chakrasana) he asked if we were chasing love and wheel was the only option would we go up for our ninth or tenth wheel. I yelled out loud, “Of course!” or “Hell yes!” Needless to say, he along with the rest of the class erupted in laughter.
I’ve not always been so fearless on and off the mat. During my first 200 hour yoga teacher training, I did the bare minimum when it came to practice teaching leading up to the practice class I taught. I would let others teach poses and I would listen, hoping my anxiety would be abated and that I would learn the skills of teaching, cuing and sequencing through osmosis alone. I suspect this was why it took me six months to actually start teaching. It is not lost on me that I began teaching two years after my first yoga class.
Prior to the significant spiritual awakening I experienced in March 2007, I lived most of my life in fear. I was driven by a hundred forms of fear. Anxiety plagued me. I had no place. Or maybe it just felt that way. I finally felt a temporary reprieve from the fear and made a decision to move to Las Vegas, NV. One of my brothers lived there and his roommate went to high school with us and I had met some coworkers so I knew a total of five folks there when I moved.
Fast forward several years, I started to connect with the yoga community and something happened when I taught yoga classes. My introversion (while still there) took a back seat and my voice was clear and heard. I gained confidence. Folks listened to what I had to say for the obvious and not so obvious reasons. My classes became very popular. And then I fell into my ego and that became my identity. I was a known hot yoga teacher in the Las Vegas valley. My Wednesday night class that started at 14 people, started to be so full I had to turn folks away because it stopped being an enjoyable experience for practitioners with that many people in such a small room.
After three years, I left that studio and started somewhere else and it was a short tenure for a number of reasons. After that month, I decided to take a break from teaching. I did not want to become one of those people who had their sole identity became wrapped up in what they do, rather than who they are. That time gave me a lot to think about my life and who I wanted to be both on the mat and off, both in the hot room and beyond.
I went through a third 200 hour yoga certification in fall 2014. Twenty-fourteen was a difficult year. I had been asked to participate in this yoga teacher training at its inception, but it wasn’t a good time. I even almost canceled my participation for the third time, but the Divine made me stay and work through my stuff. I worked through it on and off the mat. I met amazing folks in that training, for that I am truly grateful. And the cherry on top was that it was taught by one of my favorite humans in the world.
During that yoga teacher training I was able to break through some lies I had told myself. I was able to free myself from resentment, the shackles that keep us in bondage and away from others. I was able to breathe and exhale.
The beautiful thing about the reckoning is that it provides a new freedom and growth. While we have life and breathe, we have an opportunity to continue to grow in new ways. Turn over new leaves.
The Journey Continues
I recently received some hope-dashing news. I am still processing it as it hasn’t even been 24 hours. My close circle of loved ones are in the loop. That said, it was a little soul crushing, tear inspiring and fear inducing. It’s safe to say that I’m 95-99% disappointed and 1-5% relieved. Relieved that the current financial path I am on can continue. And massively disappointed that the plan I thought would be mine is not mine right now. Intellectually I know that the Divine has a plan that is better than mine and that I may not ever know why the answer right now is “no”. And I’m honestly ok with that. I am grateful that my circle has allowed me the space and grace to grieve and that they understand my disappointment, sadness and fear and that they are not disappointed in me, that they continue to stand with me.
Community is hella important to me. At times I do feel like I am carrying others with me because I am crystal clear that even though I am badass and amazing af, I. Did. Not. Do. Any. Of. This. Alone. Nobody is self-made. Nobody. No matter what folks may say.
What I have learned through this recent disappointment is that unity and community has sustained me in the last 13 hours and that it will continue to do so. The “Love” tattoo I have on my left ankle bone came out of class and that it means I can stand to love myself a little more too. That I can go up into wheel one more time to chase love and my dreams. That my voice is important in the hot room and outside of it. And finally, that I am always a student and that while fear may crop up, I should not ever make decisions based on fear. Former and forever first lady Michelle Obama reminds me that I should make them based on hope and possibility. And based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.
I’m here for all of it y’all. The tears and the laughter. The joy and the urgency. The yoga on the mat and off of it.