April 20, 2020

Yoga feels like coming home. ~ Becca Niamtu

I kinda hated Yoga, at first.

I came to yoga initially from a place of desperation, over 12 years ago.

I lived in Wilmington, North Carolina, at the time. My daughter was 8 years old, and I was in a relationship that, in retrospect, I didn’t want to be in. I was unhappy, although outwardly I think I put on a pretty good show. Melancholy was my default state of being. I rarely felt any sense of joy. I did of course experience moments of happiness, always underlined with a sense of longing for something that I didn’t have words for…something I wasn’t even sure existed. If it did exist, I had no idea how to find it.

Whatever it was, it seemed lost forever in my childhood. I’d read plenty of self-help books, and understood that my happiness was up to me.

Yet, I felt some shame for being depressed when I had so much to be grateful for.

Around the same time, my sister had been going to yoga classes in San Diego and kept telling me how much it was changing her life. I honestly didn’t understand how going to yoga could change your life but, okay. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I said to hell with it and made a three month commitment to go to a yoga class once a week.

My first class was a bit of a blur.

Lacking Lululemons, I rocked cut-off sweat shorts, paired with a regular bra and t-shirt. I chain-smoked cigarettes the entire way there, arriving late, stumbling into the only spot left in the front of the room. My loaner mat was noisy as I laid it down, drawing unwanted attention to myself. I felt 100 percent out of my element and probably smelled up the room with cigarette stench.

But. I showed up.

I went to a different studio the next week.

And I hated the teacher. Why the fuck is she so happy? Why the fuck is there no music…when is she going to turn the music on?! What the fuck does she mean “Take the inseams of your legs back and apart?!”

I finally said out loud to the woman next to me, “What the fuck does she mean?”

“Stick your butt out,” she said.

The teacher sang to us in savasana and I hated her for it.

I went back to the first studio the next week. We only had two studios in Wilmington at the time and, unfortunately, the happy teacher, who I loathed, was subbing the class I had chosen.

Even though I was (fucking) stuck with her, I stayed.

I’d made a commitment to myself.

The next week I found Holli. Holli said things like “Can you spread your fingers even more?,” in her soft sweet voice. Spread my fingers? I could do that! I could spread my fingers even more. Her approach to teaching really spoke to me, so I went back every Monday at 11 a.m. until she changed her schedule a year later.

I planned my life around that class. I began to notice my life changing and I don’t know when it happened, if it was gradual or one moment in time when everything shifted…but today, 12 years later, appreciation is my default state of being. The joy was in me all along. I had to make space to hear the soft voice of my heart. And I had to find the courage to bear the pain of hurting other people in order to free my own soul. Yoga provided that space for me. Yoga brought me home to myself and gave me the courage to live genuinely.

This is why I teach.

Teaching yoga feels like coming home.

By the way…the teacher that I initially hated ended up becoming one of my most beloved, and I learned so much from her. I was just not ready for what she was teaching, at that time.

If you are just beginning your yoga journey, try several teachers until you find one who speaks to where you are right now. Remember that it’s your own personal practice and that your instructors are there to guide you back to the teacher within your own heart; helping you hear your own soft voice within.

Yoga more or less translates to: communion with God, or our source energy—a divine intelligence and knowing within all things. It is this intelligence within nature that tells seeds when to germinate and flowers when to bloom. It is the force that pumps our hearts. It is this source that we connect with when we step onto our mat, and sync our breath with our movements.

It is Love.

Together, we step on our mats. We greet ourselves right where we are today.

Inhale, we breathe in love.

Exhale, love breathes us in.

Namaste: the light and darkness in me, recognizes the light and darkness in you, as my own reflection. We are one.

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