The Yogi In Me

Many years ago, at 7 months pregnant, I took my first (and what I thought would be my last) yoga class at the Bellevue Club. Needless to say the instructor never questioned my large, pregnant state and lack of any yoga training prior to that class and it ended up leaving a negative impression of the practice for many years. I even lived in a yoga mecca for 6 years, Boulder Colorado, and did everything I could to stay away from the practice. I studied meditation with advanced Naropa practitioners, I worked with a wonderful yoga instructor Jackie at a job who tried to convince me to come back to the practice and I even got a touch of it here and there in my NIA classes, but yoga… yeah, that wasn’t for me.

That was until this year. I started off my year of living the brand REI and challenging myself to try as many recreational sports as I could with the traditional weights/running/TRX training; but after I developed plantar fasciitis and bone spurs in both of my heels (not to mention a pre-existing neck and back injury) I backed off that training and just hung out for a couple of months. I just didn’t want to aggravate any of my constant aches and pains anymore, I literally was walking around in pain all the time by the time summer started. But luckily, I had started to explore the idea of beginning a softer, gentler conditioning like yoga again because what I started my year off with wasn’t working for my aging body anymore. And of course, my Colorado yogi friend Jackie was my inspiration on Facebook, always posting her yoga videos and the then finally my last piece of my inspiration came together in fall when I found out I could take yoga for college credit! That was it, I was determined to try this practice again and determined to stay open-minded to the experience this time.

When I started the once-a-week class in September I found that much of the instruction was not only the core yoga moves but a greater explanation of information about yoga from the four branches to the eight limbs to the chakras, gunas, types of yogas and even local resources for different types of classes or instructors. This experience was perfect! Finally, I had found the one slow-paced and educational yoga class that I had needed over a decade ago, a class that could really help me bring my body and mind into balance through this practice.

The Yogi in Me

I not only noticed the toning and flexibility increase in the last three months but I’ve reconnected to my earlier intensive mediation practice and had real moments of clarity on my body and mental, emotional state after leaving the studio. There was one class in November, a meditation class, that I left in such a tranquil and balanced state that it made me cry to realize just how far out of whack my body and mind had become by not staying connected, by not holding a regular practice for so long that the world had actually become more vibrant, more electric when I woke up that next day! I often have found moments of passion, opening, introspect and weeping while on this beautiful re-journey, moments that have taken me many years to wake up to but moments that let me know I’m not turning away from the practice again.

One of the things I noticed at the beginning of this year with REI was that yoga was a consistent presence in their stores, yoga was a constant unlike their other seasonal sections. Yes, this could be because yoga is mostly indoors and can be purchased/used all year-long but I also now think there is a larger scope to REI’s steady stream of yoga essentials….this activity is supposed to be a core part of your life, day in and day out, not just as a seasonal accessory.

Yoga is a daily core builder, a foundation to compliment and prepare you for all your recreational sports and I found this out far into my challenge year. The same way that I began to appreciate what was happening to my body, mind and spirit in the yoga practice I also found an appreciation for the REI yoga materials, apparel and accessories they carried as well. The comfort of the Prana line, the fashion-function of the Lole line and the eco friendliness of the Manduka mats.

I have now taken two different classes at studios with my college instructor (Bellevue College and Yoga Bliss on Mercer Island) and with my quarter now finished, I see a regular yoga schedule starting to emerge over the holiday season and beyond. I might have started out slow, I might have taken awhile to get back on this path but after the wonderful instruction of my experienced college instructor, the value and benefits I felt both physically and mentally and the renewed joy of the yoga experience, I’m so glad I signed up for this class. My only regret is that I wish I would have started out this year with yoga training instead of traditional training because ALL the sports I have tried need you to have a strong core and body balance; both obtained by a strong yoga practice!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I will take from this year of recreational sports through REI and yoga is now a permanent one; the yogi inside me is pretty adamant about that fact now and who am I to challenge this beautiful wisdom of the ages?!

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