When I started practicing yoga, I never realized how it would almost completely infiltrate my entire life and change it, for the better.
I first came to Yoga after reading Sidhartha in 9th grade. The first sentence said something about saying OM as you inhaled and I was hooked. I realize that isn’t typical behavior for a 14-year-old, but I also never liked cartoons and don’t remember ever really believing in Santa Claus. Aside from a sort of rebellion of my Catholic upbringing, I think I loved the idea of not having a supreme diety telling me what to do, but rather trying to find a supreme Self, the best Self I was able to be not so I could go to heaven but because it felt inherently right.
So from reading Siddhartha, I bought a yoga videotape that I saw at Blockbuster staring Ali McGraw. (Yes, i realize i dated myself in many ways with that last sentence.) Little did I know that Ali McGraw’s instructor in the video was Eric Schiffman, who happened to be a big star in YogaLand. He taught me my first Sun Salutation, which I later taught to my classmates as a junior in high school to psyche out the senior girls we were about to play in the Powder Puff football game. I guess the first yoga class I ever taught happened on that snowy Wednesday in 1996 when I led about 20 other girls through the strange movements of the sun salute.
I wish I could say I just kept on going from there with my yoga practice, but I can’t. College got in the way, (read: i stopped yoga to participate in drinking and eating). Thankfully, I found my way back by 2002 and for the last 10 years have dedicated my life to the practice. Which brings me to how I didn’t expect it to infiltrate my life.
I didn’t know that Yoga was much more than the physical practice we hear so many celebrities touting as the reason for their buff bodies. I had no idea that the physical practice, the asana practice, was really just a means to transform my life, to learn more about myself, to observe my true Self. Yes, I certainly felt stronger and lighter just by practicing almost every day. I loved the energy the practice gave me and I remember when I decided to give up all other forms of exercise that I dreaded and just commit myself to an asana practice.
But I don’t remember when or how this practice made me more conscious of my eating and drinking habits, nor can I pinpoint when it triggered the ability to notice when i was over-reacting to a situation, which having 3 kids and a husband can happen often. This is not to say that I don’t still overeat or drink too much at times. And, of course, I still don’t always handle stressful situations in the best manner — I’m sure Tom can tell you stories. But I am able to observe and notice when these things happen. I can see my monkey mind working for what it is and, sometimes, I can refrain.
So, this blog is about the many ways yoga has changed and continues to change my life. It’s about what I observe about myself through my yoga practice, how the practice of yoga made me more mindful in the choices I make whether it concerns food, drink or behavior. Really, it’s about my ongoing yoga journey to try to be my best Self and the slip-ups I encounter along the way.