Yoga Meets Us Where We Are
A friend recently commented that “yoga meets us where we are,” and though I’ve heard it before, I was struck by how that has proven true for me again and again on my journey.
In college, I took a core yoga class at the gym and my favorite part -in fact, the only part I enjoyed- was the end when we would lie on the floor beside our stability ball, and the instructor would talk us through breathing the tension out of each part of our body. The class was early in the day, and I would often be almost asleep by the end of the relaxation. Before I even knew the lingo, I was “only there for the Savasana.”
Over the next decade, I would dip my toes into yoga, but the habit never really stuck. When I was pregnant with E, I tried some prenatal yoga DVDs because I knew how good they would be for me - making labor easier, keeping my body healthier. In truth, I usually only got about fifteen minutes in before the sticky sweet “soothing” voice of the instructor would send me running for the hills.
When E was a toddler, a new yoga studio opened a half hour from home. Some of my friends started going to classes, and I wanted desperately to join, but there were so many reasons I couldn’t. Thinking about care for E was daunting – with travel time, the investment would have been several hours each time I went to a class. Finances were a concern. And honestly, a part of me was scared of yoga, partly because I had tried it and hadn’t been ready for it, partly because the fairly recent trauma I was still (and am still) overcoming was looming over my head. Yoga had gotten tangled up in that trauma and the resulting stress, and thinking about practicing yoga gave me some anxiety. I knew yoga could be another avenue to emotional healing, but what if the trauma link actually made the anxiety worse?
As I witnessed the positive changes in the people around me who were practicing, I knew I had to give it a go. I was in need of some healing, and yoga seemed to be invading my consciousness. From the emotional safety and comfort of our house, I cruised YouTube and found some beginner flows. I felt empowered by those first few home sessions, and before long I was creeping out of bed early to get a little practice in. I was happy with that home practice, but it didn’t feel like enough. I wasn’t digging deep emotionally – I wasn’t even touching the trauma link I had with yoga. And then suddenly, yoga rose up to meet me.
At this point, little e was very little, and very attached. I had never left her for more than about an hour, so travelling thirty minutes for a two hour yoga class was out of the question. And then, a whisper came. A new studio, eight minutes from my front door. Led by someone who was an emotional safe zone for me, who understood my complex trauma link with the practice. I threw myself into the preparation of the space. I got to know the walls and the floor and the energy of the space intimately before I ever rolled out my mat. I made it my yoga home. And for nearly a year, I took in everything I could about yoga, going beyond the poses and into the breathe, the philosophy, the energy and the quiet. And for nearly a year, I was happy. I had broken down that trauma link. I had made yoga my own. But then, it didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to squeeze every detail out of classes. I wanted to know why things were put in a certain order, what did all the Sanskrit mean, what more did the practice hold for me.
I started to explore the option of yoga teacher training, which everyone says is the best way to get to the meat of yoga. But I knew before I started that teacher training wasn’t an option for me. The time investment, the financial investment – both were immense. There was no way to juggle two children (one who still sticks to me like glue) into care for a whole weekend every month for eight months. An intensive training, which amounts to yoga twenty-four hours a day for a short period of time, posed similar problems, with the added hurdle that many are in exotic locations. That thought spurred me to the resignation that in a year or two, when little e was less like glue, and finances were not as tight, I would meet my mom somewhere exotic and throw myself into yoga while she threw herself into the beach with my children all day every day. That was the best I could do for myself – the promise that the training would happen eventually, when the timing was right. I tried to make my peace with it, when suddenly yoga rose up once again.
Lying in bed one night, I clicked through an article about yoga – I can’t even remember the topic. I was reflecting on my practice a few days before, when we were repeating the mantra “I can, I will, I am.” The words were so positive, and I remember my heart hurting a little during the class as I focused on these words, and tried not to add “someday” to the end of the mantra. As I brought those words up again, I saw a link to a distance learning teacher training. I had clicked on these before, so I wasn’t excited. At least a thousand dollars and nothing but a piece of paper to show at the end. “Yoga in a Box” is a gimmick, capitalizing on yoga’s popularity, and I wanted my teacher training to mean something, I wanted to be able to join an organization and get liability insurance. I had searched and searched and nothing fit my criteria, so I wasn’t very hopeful when I clicked through to the website.
But suddenly, there it was. A distance training option with a school that was Yoga Alliance certified. The ability to get personal insurance with the credentials the school gives. A self-led, immersive training that was run by instructors who also grant the industry standard credential – the RYT200. This distance option wouldn’t give me the same credentials as an in-person training, but it would satisfy my need to learn more, go further, squeeze more out of yoga. And the course was in my budget. Many other distance learning programs had priced me out before I even got a chance to look at the curriculum.
Once again yoga has found a way to meet me where I am. After a few months of planning and soul searching and penny saving, I am diving in. And though it’s only been a few weeks, this new chapter in my journey has been exciting and fulfilling. I am stuffing my brain with new ideas and remembering why I love learning. Yoga has so much to offer me, and its first lesson has been to trust it.