November 4, 2012

My Yogic Love Affair. ~ Jennifer Donnell

I have a dirty secret about yoga.

I used to hate it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea of it—the way those who made time for the practice became long and lean. Or, how the yogis I came into contact with had a peacefulness about them.

Yet, what I didn’t like was more powerful than what I did. First off, yoga was expensive. Second, it was hard (shaking muscles and sweat dripping on one’s mat). Worst of all, I found it boring. I mean, really boring.

My rationale was this: Why sit in a stuffy room with low lighting, for an hour, moving into various uncomfortable positions I wasn’t even sure a body should do?

Instead, I could be out dancing or running! The only good thing about yoga, I decided, was the pants. Indeed, I had a closet full of yoga pants and wasn’t ashamed to wear them to the grocery store or out to coffee (a double espresso, thank you very much).

I suspected that in an alternate universe, someone like me would like yoga. After-all, I liked yoga’s cousins”—veganism and nature. I had a closet-full of books about meditation and consciousness.

Photo: tarnalberry

When the questionnaire for my first high school reunion arrived in the mail, I glanced through the selections and checked “yoga,” as one of my interests. I theorized that my high school reunion was a few months away and I might be madly in love with yoga by then! The big night came and the last thing on my mind was doing a downward facing dog. The reunion committee had compiled our information into small books, which they distributed to everyone in attendance. On my page, the box which mentioned yoga made me feel slightly guilty.

I decided it was best to forget about yoga for a while.

Though the yoga part didn’t pan out, it wasn’t long before I was madly in love, though it wasn’t with practicing my asanas. I had discovered an exercise mecca! Or, rather, techno kickboxing and the very handsome kickboxing instructor. The only thing more exciting than his long brown hair and his touch when he handed me my boxing gloves, was the strobe light and blaring music. I was addicted to the adrenaline rush from the first class onward. I kicked, punched and felt the rush three times a week and loved it. I felt the rush four times a week, once the kickboxing instructor began asking me out for coffee after class.

Only it wasn’t meant to be. It turns out that Mr. Kickboxing was married and his wife wasn’t thrilled with him inviting younger girls out for peppermint lattes. She made him quit teaching and I was left without my right hook punch and my main form of stress relief.

I decided to give yoga another go. Perhaps boring old yoga would appeal to depressed people.

I tried hot yoga. My heart beat like it was running a marathon and it was hotter than the worst day in summer.

A year went by.

I switched to walking my dog and stopped drinking double espressos. Slowly, my need for adrenaline released its hold. On a whim, I signed on to appear on a reality television show and the producer decided that yoga was just what I needed.

He had the camera crew follow me to a studio with gorgeous hand-painted walls and bowls of chocolate laid out. The female instructor handed me a bouquet of fresh picked flowers and stared past my eyes, as if she were seeing the divinity of my soul.

I felt accepted and at ease. By the end of the class, I walked away a little lighter and more at peace. It was then I finally decided to buy my own yoga mat.

I’d say the rest is history, but it isn’t. It took years of practice, perseverance, and hot days doing yoga alone at parks before I finally perfected my downward dog or dancer’s pose. It was even longer before I realized what it truly means to connect breath with movement.

These days, I’m grateful to have found yoga and all that it offers. I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to teach and share the practice with others.

Initially, I thought it was yoga that had changed and become more exciting. Rather, it was I who had to change, in order to find the beauty of the practice that is yoga.

Jen Donnell is a writer, dandelion blower, and yoga teacher from Southern California. She loves introducing people to the practice and can be reached at: [email protected] or www.betteryouyoga.com



Editor: Elysha Anderson

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