In the beginning, prior to practicing or really having any exposure to yoga I knew it was all about flexibility. My belief was that yoga could allow the practitioner to develop a physical focus by pushing the limits of their body. I had seen yogis in photographs and the often extreme flexibility they exhibited. It seemed like a great thing to help build a stronger body, less prone to injury. More simply, it would help my cycling and other sports
I began my first yoga class in September of 2007, after several failed attempts to get others to join me, at Ethos Yoga in Holly, MI. I wanted to try it and purchased a 6-class package to give it a fair shake, my plan was once a week. I remember greeting the teacher at the front desk, an air of calm and focus could be felt as she signed me up and showed be briefly around the small studio. My fondness of this space grew with every step through the lobby, practice room and tea room complete with a futon and cubbies for yoga mats. The charm of this small studio is still unmatched after many visits to studios across the country. That first class was enlightening and gave me new insight as to what yoga could be. With intentional purpose, our teacher guided us gently through strengthening and balancing postures of the practice. Consistently, reminders to focus on breathing and patience with self, edified my confidence and increased the joy that was building with my choice in discovering this ancient practice . One statement, which stands out for me from that first class; “when you noticed your mind has wandered from the focus of your breath, just begin again”. Since that day I have taken this insight into my daily life as a recurring mantra. In anything that I am working on, who I am talking to or the activity I am participating in, when I wander off the path, I can always just begin again.
That first season of yoga was a time that had many things going on for me. In my personal life a hard driving lifestyle had been created over the previous year. There was too much excess and the activities were not what I wanted to maintain. My time spent in yoga was invested sorting through my thoughts on lifestyle choices and personal aim. Focus was on internal struggles resolving from a divorce two years previous and the friends developed over the past year. Through intense self-introspection, and befriending people who had a positive intent on life, this could happen. As my practice developed I felt strongly that pursuing yoga consistently would continue to open the personal dialogue and insight necessary to become the person I knew I could be. By exposure to people who strove to understand themselves I would be amongst fellow seekers. People who could share this experience with me and celebrate as we grew together. Very simply, I could find uplifting and empowering friends. I am happy to say, that is exactly what has happened.
Through my yoga practice I have come to believe that both yoga and meditation can help most people grow mentally, physically and spiritually. Personally, I find it difficult to see how someone who does not take the time to look into their own awareness can ever really know who they are. The whirring, endless chatter of the conscious mind and ego easily drowns out the part of us that is truly aware. Yoga and meditation can bring to the fore, that part of us that watches what goes on in our mind and physical body. This awareness then can offer insight to the depth of our soul. The greater our awareness of the observer within, the greater the depth of our personal wisdom leads to higher consciousness and self awareness. It has been so for millennia and it will be so long after we have moved on from our physical bodies. Yoga is one step to lead in the direction to this self discovery, take that step.
What activity makes your heart sing and keeps a smile glued to your face?
What is the song of your soul, your most fulfilling dream?
What would a life full of joy, compassion and fulfillment look like for you?