Today I present the third story from one of my students who took Yoga II over the summer. She found me at my race last year and (I am grateful she did this) tracked me down in yoga at CFCC. I have had the great pleasure of getting to know her and hope her LION strength will always fill her Kat heart!
My first introduction to yoga was like many others. I joined a Shapes Fitness, women only gym, and being daunted by the countless machines and weights, decided to start with group fitness. I saw a yoga class on the schedule and thought to myself “let me just ease into gym life by trying out yoga.” So, I came in all prepared in my new Adidas yoga pants and mat that I had bought the weekend before, not really knowing what to expect. I was really nervous so I parked my mat next to the back, the best location to make a speedy exit. Around me were all women of different shapes and sizes which made me feel somewhat more confident. As the class started I quickly realized that it was not the “ease” I was looking for but my stubborn nature kept me from fleeing the scene. The gentle lilt of the instructor telling the class to focus on our breath as it fills our lungs all the way up to our chest cavity was a stark contrast to the personal struggle happening over at my mat. My limbs were trembling as I strained to hold this pose and tried to contort my body in ways it has not experienced in quite some time, if ever, and somehow I was supposed to BREATHE while doing all this? I tried to slow my rapid, shallow breaths with only slight success. At long last, we entered into final relaxation a wave of peace and tranquility came over me. From that moment on, I was hooked and I knew I had to come back for more. Yoga made me feel relaxed and less stressed over situations beyond my control. I felt good mentally and exercising was making me feel good physically. Fast forward a year and I took a detour from my yoga journey. I had started to work 3 jobs and tried to balance that with school which meant yoga got placed on the back burner. Just as quickly as it started, it was forgotten.
Four years, a heartbreak, a new home, and a few states further, I finally reconnected with yoga. At the time, I felt like I was pretty close to rock bottom. The heartbreak felt like the most devastating moment in my life. I had been dating this guy for 3 years and I was happily living with him and the relationship started to feel like something was not right. I eventually found out he was cheating on me with a 16-year-old that was still in high school. The future I envisioned with the two of us collapsed as well as my happiness. I turned to that dark head space where I questioned what I did wrong, was I not pretty enough, and how could he do this to me- to us? So, I called my Dad and asked him if he had room for me at his place, and he did. I quit my 3 jobs and packed anything that would fit in my car and left the rest behind. I went from having my own apartment in Florida to living with my step-mom and dad in North Carolina. Living with my parents after having my own place was a tough transition. Between that, my break up, and having no friends in this new environment caused me to be an emotional wreck. My dad didn’t raise a quitter so I started to go back to school here. When I had the opportunity to take Yoga I at an institutional level a seized the moment. I had felt my emotional best when doing yoga before and I recognized the need to get back to that healthier place.
The great thing about yoga, is even when you haven’t done it in a while, it’s like meeting with an old friend, eagerly awaiting with open arms. I’m really not sure what I was expecting by taking yoga at a college but the class far exceeded what I could possibly imagine. I think to take the class for the semester ended up costing me roughly $150 but it was worth every penny. I looked forward to going into class every day. The poses were great but even better than that was the philosophies behind yoga. This class is so therapeutic and truly allowed me to heal.
Every discussion expanded my perspective on the topic. I felt challenged to think outside the box and loved contributing my view points. The mental work was difficult, but also, extremely rewarding. If you want the answers to the age-old question who you are and what you are supposed to be doing with your life, this course really will help you with that. Now don’t get me wrong potential naysayer, it wasn’t like all of the sudden I had an epiphany and had all the answers. I had to work hard and think over the questions Mrs. P asked and meditate over them and I felt significantly more confident about who I am and what I want to do. I even changed my major after this course to something that would make me happy to do rather than worrying about playing it safe and studying a degree that I was not that enthusiastic about. The answers were inside of me all along and Mrs. Pappas helped me find them buried deep down, like the hidden treasures that they were.
I felt forlorn as Yoga I came to a close; I was not ready retire my yoga mat. I could do fitness yoga, which is great, but it doesn’t have the philosophical aspect that yoga I offered me. I took the plunge and signed up for yoga II. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the more complex physical aspects of yoga II and trying out yoga fusions kept class fun. I went further down the rabbit hole in the philosophies of yoga and meditation. Learning about Buddhism and Hindu deepened both my understanding of where yoga came from and also my meditative practices. Now that yoga II is over I will have to find another outlet to continue my practice.
For now, the plans are to continue the Perfect Body Yoga Challenge created by Bad Yogi. It is all about self-love and being content in the present moment. I would like to eventually do yoga teaching training to deepen my practice and continue to learn more about yoga both on and off the mat.
Thank You to Amanda for the Think Out Loud Thursday space to tell these stories.