At key times in my life, I have turned to yoga as a form of therapy – not just for my mind, but also for my body and soul. During a terrible breakup in my early 30s (which happened after I had just gone through the intense process of uprooting my life and moving from New York to New Hampshire), I started attending a yoga class at my local gym and lucked out with an amazing teacher. Grace was a tiny powerhouse of a young woman and she made class fun. It was the first time that I had done a more “power” form of yoga, where my strength was challenged with long-held planks and lunges with twists. But what was great about Grace is that she gave us an adequate warm-up before busting out the hard moves, and her positive energy made me look forward to seeing her every week. At the height of the breakup, tears would stream down my face during parts of class and Grace wouldn’t say a word. In order to succeed at the poses, I had to be completely present and engaged in what my body was doing. Something about connecting with my body so fiercely made the emotion pour out of me (literally) and I would leave class feeling like my self-esteem had been restored.
It seems stereotypical, I know, but I was first introduced to yoga while working at a radio station in Woodstock, New York. A large, beautiful studio opened up on Tinker Street right when yoga was starting to be part of the conversation. (I remember Madonna crediting yoga for her ripped body and then suddenly Brittany was doing it as well.) I attended only a couple of beginner classes, but it was enough for me to realize hey, I like this – which really says a lot when you consider that I often got paired up with the owner of the station/my boss and we’d have to help deepen each other’s downward dog by pulling on a strap that was wrapped around the other’s waist.
When I suffered a layoff in my mid-30s, I signed up for an unlimited monthly membership at my local studio (where I still attend today). I couldn’t really afford such an extravagance, but I knew yoga was what I needed in order to make peace with what I had just been through. As with the breakup, I often teared up during class – which signaled to me that my instinct to invest in that membership was dead on. Attending class brought structure to my day – a reason to get dressed and leave the house – and also made my mind, body and soul healthier. I found an amazing job within six months and entered back into the workforce stronger than when I had left.
Today, I am staring down my 41st birthday. I am not freaked out about turning 41, mind you. I know that I don’t have a “traditional” life for a woman my age – I have never been married, no kids – but I am 100% good with that. What I am actually struggling with right now is what my family has been going through over the past few years. My brother has been fighting cancer and has had a couple of major surgeries – and as terrible as it has been to watch him battle this disease, it has almost been more gut wrenching to watch my elderly parents watch him battle it. That is their son. My brother should be living the best years of his life with his family and my parents should finally be enjoying a well-deserved retirement. Unfortunately, that is not the hand that my family was dealt. I do realize that it can always be worse, but man…
And that’s how the noise starts. I find myself falling down this rabbit hole of WTF.
I hadn’t been to the yoga studio in a few months due to my travel schedule and made a concerted effort to attend class a couple of weeks ago in order to help re-center. As serendipity would have it, our teacher went through the announcements at the end of class – one of them being that the studio was holding a free info session for their 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course with YogaWorks. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it except the teacher went on to explain that you don’t have to be interested in becoming a yoga teacher to take the course – you can also do it to deepen your practice. That’s when my ears perked up. Yoga has helped me through so many challenging times in my life – I wonder if it’s time for me to completely immerse myself in it again. And what if I actually do find that I’m interested in teaching a class here or there? What an amazing gift to be able to help others in the way that my teachers have helped me.
So I’m going to the workshop on Saturday to explore this idea. I never imagined doing anything like this previously – but with one tiny mention, I now feel like this idea is something I can’t ignore.