Kristi, the admirable coordinator of NaYoPracMo, recently posted this Yoga Story Meme for the participants in this month’s NaYoPracMo challenge. I thought it a really good way to let others know my history with yoga and it is also a good pause for reflection on where I’ve been so far in my quest for a yoga life.
Might I also add here that Kristi, upon reading a comment I had posted about my struggles with scoliosis and the surgery that I had for it, told me about Julie, another NaYoPracMo participant who also has scoliosis and who has also had a spinal fusion. I must admit that I’ve never been in contact with anyone who has scoliosis, has had the surgery and practices yoga now as a way to combat what comes with all of that. So, I’m so happy to be in touch with Julie now and I feel like we will share a lot in our struggles with such similar situations. (She also has a very beautiful blog that chronicles her yoga practices. It is a favorite of mine!)
Now… onto the Meme.
1. The start. What brought you to yoga?
I didn’t start yoga until a good long while after my back surgery. I had the surgery in 1994 and didn’t start yoga until 1998. I had done the exercises that were recommended after the surgery and, when done consistently, they helped. One day while I was in Oxford, attending college at Ole Miss, I realized that the exercises were nothing more than yoga moves. I hadn’t known much about yoga before that so I’m sure I came to that conclusion from a magazine article or something of that nature. Soon after that, I heard that a spa on the Square was starting small yoga classes. I went one day and was hooked. My teacher was quite formidable and not very approachable at all but, even so, she was really really inspirational. She knew of my situation, my back problems and, in her own way, let me know that I could sit out any pose that I needed to or didn’t feel comfortable doing. Right at first, that was a good many of them! But, the ones I could do made all the difference in the world!
2. First class. Describe your first class(es) or practice and your reaction to it.
I guess I kind of answered this above. I don’t remember the specifics of my first class but I very vividly remember the teacher and the overwhelming intimidation yet inspiration I felt from here. The room was kind of dark, very small, and had mirrors all around it. There were only about five people in the class but she pushed us all hard. I only did what I knew would not hurt me and still do that today. I know better now what I can and can’t do and I stick with that. Yoga is, after all, largely about listening to your body.
3. The addiction. How/why did you get hooked?
I liked how it made my back feel, how limber and good I felt after a class, how clear my head felt, the sense of accomplishment I felt from doing such a good thing for myself. All of that leads to quite an addiction, I’d say. However, addiction is like scissors and willpower is like rock. Rock always beats scissors, I’m sad to say.
4. The history. Describe the development of your practice and history with teachers since then.
I’ve had a rocky road (see above – pun intended) with yoga, I think. I will practice yoga with great resolve for bits of time and then I will fall out of it and feel horrible about that. Sometimes I have a place to practice and sometimes I don’t (like now). This makes it hard to really advance much with my practice. For the majority of my yoga practice, I’ve practiced alone at home with DVDs. I was practicing two hours each day for awhile about two years ago and even planning to attend a yoga teacher training in California. That never happened. Most of the reason for this is a sheer lack of willpower. I don’t have it. I don’t have any of that or self-discipline, which makes it hard to practice yoga or stick with any other thing in my life. I’ve gone over this before.
As for teachers, my favorite was by far my most recent teacher in Oxford, Mississippi. I took at the Baptist Healthplex under the very kind instruction and encouragement of Stevi. She could do some yoga and was so inspiring to watch! Oh to be as good as she! But, even besides the fine example she set, she was so kind and accomodating and concerned and tried to really understand her students and where they were coming from, where they had been. The classes were always VERY full, especially for a small town of Oxford’s size. We would have anywhere from 20 to 50 people in each class. But, even with a class of that size, Stevi would still remember each person’s limitations and strengths. With my back, she would make a point to say “Karen Beth, you might want to not do this one…” whenever we did backbends, which I cannot do. My absolute FAVORITE thing about the class though was that we practiced by candlelight. It was so relaxing and lent such a reflective and calming ambience to the room. Even if the practice got rigorous at times, there was still such a feeling of calm because of the warm glow.
I miss that class.
5. The future. What are your practice goals for the future?
As always, I hope to really establish a daily practice, a good, consistent, devoted, disciplined practice. I would love for the discipline I have in yoga to bleed into other areas – all areas! – of my life as well. I can hope for that. I had hoped to become a yoga teacher but I’m not so sure I want that anymore. I’m not sure that it would be as suited to me as I might have once thought it would be. Of course, perhaps, it was suited to me once but not now. People change and I’m not exception. All I really want out of my yoga is for it to really and truly be an integral part of my life, not only so that it will help my back pains but, so that it will help the pains I have in all areas of my life. I do believe that yoga truly has the potential to do that.
Thanks for this insightful meme, Kristi.