I’ve been doing yoga since college in Arkansas, back in 2005. My friend Merry invited me to go with her for PE credit and I figured, “why not?” In a way, I feel like when she asked me to go to yoga, it was the universe speaking to me through her. We were a little out of place, because the class was mostly adults from the local community who had clearly been before. We laughed hard as we tried to figure it all out on our mats on the smooth wooden floor of the fluorescent-lit gym. Everything was so awkward and perplexing, but it all felt good and it was fun. We were shushed a lot for being so rowdy, but we calmed our giggles week by week and stretched a bit deeper week by week too.
The next year when I transferred to the University of Delaware, I joined the yoga club. It met two or three times a week and I was there for every session. I dragged my new friends along with me too. Soon I had a small crew of yogis. The girls who taught the classes seemed well organized. They knew so many different moves (which I now know are called asanas) and always knew how I could push myself harder at just the same moment that I knew I could go deeper. They made an announcement at one class, saying they were looking for new teachers. My insides lurched for the opportunity, but I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I knew enough about the “moves” and I couldn’t imagine being bold enough to stand in front of everyone and simultaneously show and tell them what to do. So I let the suggestion wash over me. The same thing happened when I heard my neighbor had done her yoga teacher training course. I thought, “that should be me” but I also let that idea float away.
After I graduated with my degree in business in the epicenter of worst slump of the recession, yoga and I lost touch for a bit. I lost touch with more than one of my passions as I sat on the couch and applied fruitlessly to every job I could find related to my new degree. After 3 months, I got an email that said “teach English in Korea” and I applied on a whim. I was there a month later. That year in Korea and two years in China slipped by before I found myself on a yoga mat again in Istanbul, Turkey, my next home in 2013. My friend Kat found an ad for a cheap month of hot yoga and invited me along, which I felt I couldn’t resist. We were in a nice apartment-turned studio facing the Marmara Sea with sleek lines and Buddhas for décor. A lean Turkish lady with a smooth voice but a clipped accent guided us through the asanas. We bent and twisted and leaned and grew in a way that felt so familiar and so natural and so necessary. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed yoga.
The next year, I joined a fancy gym in my new neighborhood. Sometimes I went just for the steamy hammam in the locker room, but mostly I went for the classes, including yoga. I was thrilled to have regular access. After every class, I came out feeling lighter, more limber, calmer, clearer and truly, happier. Another studio in my new neighborhood had a deal so Kat suggested we join. We were in a dim basement with a low ceiling for another month of hot yoga- we went almost every day to sweat it out and stretch it out. I found I was more flexible in the heat even when I felt like I could pass out. I got lots of positive encouragement from the instructors there who learned to recognize us. I would have gone more after the deal, but couldn’t afford it. So I was back to my regular gym a couple of times a week, but I wanted more.
In the Summer of 2014, I visited India on a volunteering trip and on a free day, found a poster for yoga classes. I went to the studio which turned out to be teacher training center. One of the trainees led the class. I was the only non-trainee to show up (in a while it seemed). They made training seem so do-able. I remember looking at the Himalayas out the window upside-down doing bridge. In that moment, I knew I was right where I should be. Everything felt right.
For my next job, I moved to a little city in Myanmar where everything was covered in a thin layer of dust. They had colorful local markets and quaint bamboo huts, cows in the middle of the road, big smiles around every corner, gold stupas reaching for the sky and gorgeous rice fields stretching to the foot of the mountains. But they didn’t have a yoga studio. I was more than a little bit disappointed, but I perused the small shops and found a mat. A new friend, Jenn, turned me onto a pod cast with short sessions and I also started to try to guide myself. I knew lots of asanas. I knew which ones could morph into other similar poses. I could breath energy into my body with sun salutations too.
That next Summer, in 2015, I visited Bali, a land studded with yoga studios. I spent weeks dropping my boyfriend off at the beach to surf and motorbiking over to yoga before picking him back up for lunch. It was heavenly. I got into a new flow and found a new need for yoga. One particular class really struck a chord with me in Ubud- hatha with Emily, as recommended to me by another yogi, Ali, who I’d met at the beach. I felt really compelled by Emily and wished I had time for more classes.
Back in Myanmar, when the internet worked, I’d sometimes go on Facebook. I noticed a trend on my feed- lots of my gal pals were doing yoga and a few were even teaching it. This observation made me consider doing the training myself. I sent lots of messages asking how they got into it and what suggestions they had. I felt inspired by their responses and started to look into courses with my radar mostly on India. My sister Natalie and I were talking and she said she’d love to do the training too. She mentioned Bali and I said I would only do it there if it was with Emily. She googled Emily and said, “Guess we’re going to Bali this Summer! There’s a training session in July!”
I worked hard on preparing myself, mind, body, and spirit for devoting myself to yoga. I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been practicing in the last couple of years as much as some of my fellow future instructors surely had. Part of me felt like maybe I should wait, but I told myself, “really, there’s no time like the present; now or never.” I threw myself into something I didn’t know if I was ready for, but that was not new to me.
In a way, I feel like I’ve been pulled here by forces beyond me. Like a trail I couldn’t see stretching ahead over mountain slopes. Friends along the way have pointed me in the right direction. Their voices were my guru or my guide, sending me ever further along the path toward yoga.
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