My first introduction to yoga wasn’t actually yoga in it’s entirety. Because my grandma Judy, who you’ll likely hear a lot more about in the future, was hospitalized quite a bit for issues arising from lupus (SLE), an I worked at the hospital at the time, I was often there during her treatments and sessions with hospital staff. It was a physical therapist that taught my grandmother hand mudras (ways to hold your hand to help focus, lower stress, etc). He called it yoga though, and I started looking around to see what more I could learn. And there it was, on the cover of my first copy of Yoga Journal- a beautiful and graceful image of a woman in a standing balance that continues to be one of my favorites to this very day. I didn’t care about mudras anymore, didn’t care about the purpose or the benefits, I just wanted to be able to do what she was doing! (My first attempt, in socks on my linoleum kitchen floor was not so very graceful!)
So I followed the home practice plans from Yoga Journal, I bought yoga dvd’s, eventually started practicing with the help of online videos. This wasn’t a daily practice, or always a weekly practice, but it was a random constant- I kept going back to it in random intervals and felt like the term “yogi” applied to me.
Somewhere along the way I realized that there was more than just a feeling of physical balance that was bringing me back to the mat. There was a calm, a sense of focus and wellbeing that had worked its way into practice that was strangely addicting.
Then life got kind of ugly, as lives can sometimes do, and I lost any desire to do anything, let alone clear a space on the floor for a yoga mat and space in my mind for a solid 30 minute practice. Really, I lost my desire to do pretty much anything. Cleaning was kept to the bare minimum required to survive, interaction with my kids was reduced to prompting them to get ready for bed at night, leaving the house was for grabbing groceries and getting home as quickly as possible. Looking back, I was depressed- bad bad depressed. But when you’re in it, it’s hard to see it. There were a bunch of reasons for my depression that I’m not going to go into here- but a lot of little factors played into the depression, a situation that seems pretty common for most people who suffer from depression. That’s why there is no one quick fix answer. It’s a battle that can’t be won until you realize you are fighting it. And even then, it is a lot of trial and error coupled with a tiny little light of some kind to focus on.
Included with the depression was my long lost friend, stress induced anxiety, who had always stopped by for short visits when I was super stressed but had never stayed for long. This time she had packed 5 bags and a trunk. No matter what the reasons are for suffering from anxiety (chronic stress, being attacked, just a general tendency towards it), it all ends up in the same place. Heart palpitations, crappy skin and hair, feelings of lethargy, and a state of foggy, slow thinking. Keep at it and you end up in critical condition- a point I was walking towards every single day. Somewhere along the way I cleared out of the fog of depression, but anxiety wouldn’t leave so quietly.
So anyway, after a lot of re-reading her website and basically stalking her facebook page, I finally worked up the courage to call Erin at Evolve Yoga and Wellness Center and basically laid it all out on the table and asked if I could join her classes. (You don’t actually need approval to join yoga classes, you can literally just walk in at the start of one and join. I’m not sure why I felt that I needed to get permission, but Erin was great about it.) And the rest, as they say, is history.
I brought yoga back into my life, but in a more solid way this time around. I do my best to follow the whole of Yoga (the physical practice of yoga is such a small part of the whole. There’s an entire 8 limbs!) and I’m learning as I go. There are still days where I have to guide myself gently into breathing, but they come less often than they had in the past. I’m calmer. I’m happier. I’m actually interested in trying new things, going places, and just being a human being. It feels wonderful.
So wonderful, that when Erin reached out to find new yoga instructors, I jumped over that cliff with zero insight as to what lay ahead. And I’m grateful every single day that I did.