12 Years of Yoga: Meditations from the Mat

August of 2009 was a particularly busy time in my life. I had just started dating my future

Me at my last race, August 2009, Pigman Half-Ironman Triathlon....DNF
Me at my last race, August 2009, Pigman Half-Ironman Triathlon….DNF

husband in the two months prior and then I received an acceptance letter to East Carolina University, where I would eventually finish my graduate degree. I took a trip home to Iowa that month and attempted to complete the half-Ironman triathlon I’d been training for since January and was thwarted by the weather. I really “met” my nephew for the first time that month, despite his being born 10 months earlier. And I moved my sister from Iowa into my home in NC. It was a whirlwind of events.

I started grad school that month and gave up training slowly over the first semester. I was driving, for the first two months, 3 hours in one direction to visit my boyfriend on weekends and whenever else I could squeeze it in and 2 hours each way to school four days a week. I had to tote my sister with me some of the time so that we could house hunt. With all of that, trying to hold down a part-time job I’d picked up doing swimming lessons (which I promptly dumped along with the previously mentioned nannying position long before it was to begin), and doing coursework, training and yoga got set to the side.

I gave up on yoga too and I found myself in a lot of emotional turmoil. I can’t say for certain that the two were connected because yoga had not yet become a truly centering activity for me, but the loss of physical exertion was also causing a loss of self and self esteem. I felt confident in my classes, but a mess in the rest of my life.

I was lucky enough in spring semester to get the opportunity to teach classes in the Lifetime Physical Activity and Fitness (LPAF) Program as well as to meet Rebecca. This brought me back into activity for myself, gave me income and a purpose, and taught me so much more about myself and my future. I taught 4 classes every Tuesday and Thursday that semester: Group Exercise, Yoga, Yoga, and Fitness Walking. Rebecca was an instructor who was “Interim” Program Director for LPAF. She was amazingly quirky and friends with my advisor who I also admired. I felt like a third part of their group as we were all about the same age and had similar interests. The big difference…..they were faculty and I hadn’t gotten my self together enough in my lifetime to finish any higher education where they were into their careers.

Rebecca helped me to change some of my Type A personality ways along the way. Not so much that I could ever fully identify as Type B….and I’m slowly becoming okay with that even now…..but enough that I started to see yoga as something more than just a physical practice. I started to see myself as having more potential in the field than I previously thought. And, even now, Rebecca and Melanie (my advisor)’s voices ring loud in my head when I consider a PhD program from time to time.

Rebecca is the person who introduced me to Meditations from the Mat and it has since changed my life in many ways. When I need something to read to a class…it’s there. When I need some insight and guiding ways….it’s there. When I need a refresher on why I am holding a pose for so long….it’s there. I wish Rebecca could still be there with me as I continue my yoga journey, but she too has her own life journey and we have lost touch throughout it.

My yoga changed that semester and soon I found out that I was pregnant. I attribute that to a lot of Goddess pose practiced that semester. It’s one of the best for increasing hip flexibility (something that I’ve always needed) and fertility. But my yoga and new insights did not make me a better college level teacher. That wouldn’t come for several more years. This was my first real experience with that scene and over the second year of grad school I got deeper and deeper in…..and less and less likeable.  (more bad reviews)

When was the moment that you moved your practice from just a physical one to something more?

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