I started my “yoga journey” unknowingly and unprepared in April 2009. My first class ever was at Bikram Yoga Silverlake. It was sweaty! Challenging! And “Weird!” (Half the time I barely understood what the teacher was saying). Curiosity got the best of me and I kept coming back.
I stopped for about 10 months and, on the interim, experienced a loss in the family and a broken heart.
Feeling like I lost both legs below the knee, I made my way back to Bikram Yoga Silverlake and sheepishly bought a single class. That very quickly became 5 class cards, then 10 and finally a monthly unlimited. I could barely afford it but it was the only place I felt safe and whole and wanted after a relationship that was nothing short of tumultuous and abusive.
When I was almost done with my first and only monthly unlimited package, I received a call from the studio manager and voila - I signed up to be a cleaner for free yoga!
This is where I hit my stride! I took class-after class-after-class and enjoyed my time at the studio so much that many people joked that I probably lived there. That was almost true! I cleaned on Wednesday nights after the class which ends at 1130pm, finish at 3am and I’d be back again at 11am to take a class and stay all day.
I made new friends with the students and teachers alike. I took class with open ears and eyes and most of all with an open heart. I allowed myself to sweat out the toxins - both real and sometimes probably imagined - and get carried on a journey which swept me towards wanting to become a teacher myself.
I received so much love from all the teachers there - Catherine, Hannah, Nancy, Valerie, Whitney, Kacie, Tom, Emily, etc that after 2 years of practice, I felt it was time to share the love that I had received.
I became a certified Bikram teacher in the fall of 2012. A couple of years after that, I followed up my training with a 200 hr vinyasa training with Noah Maze. Just last year, I also began my journey into the 300 hr training.
From all these teachers - including Bikram himself, there were tiny nuggets that I took with me which I never really thought that I would eventually share with others as I stepped into the teacher’s seat. I didn’t even imagine I would become a teacher.
But this is the path I chose. It is where I found myself walking taller, speaking louder and sharing myself so passionately with nearly no expectation of any form of return.
1. Teach from the Heart - You Will find Love. Bikram told me that at the very first day of teacher training. He told me when I recited Half-Moon pose in front of him and 435 other trainees that I teach from the heart and I should continue to do so. Today, almost 6 years after I began teaching, this still holds true. I still find love every time I teach and I tell my students to open their hearts too.
2. You are exactly where you’re meant to be. I heard this from one of my favorite teachers. The first time I heard it, I believed it. It wasn’t just the pose at the moment. It was the class and everything else that came along with it. Years later, when I began teaching, this exact line came out of my mouth as I made the class do a quarter turn to face the left side of the room. No extra movements. Just a turn. After the class, a woman from the class approached me and said that she had been going through some stuff and when I said that “she was exactly where she was meant to be” she cried in class and found the affirmation she was seeking. It was like a lightbulb turned on in her head.
3. Just Breathe. When all else fails - find your breath. Reconnect with it. Breathe! I took this advice to heart. And I have never stopped sharing it with my students.Outside the four walls of the yoga room, when it’s almost not obvious and almost always taken for granted, I reminded myself this: just breathe.
4. Be patient with your body. Be kind to yourself. Having started doing yoga late in life, I recognized early on the many limitations my body had to contend with. But it’s not to say there was no improvement. There were tons of it. I always speak of this example: When I first practiced, I couldn’t grab my foot. 9 years later, I’m now able to grab my foot and kick forward! I am still working on the next step - maybe another 9 years? Perhaps. But I’ll have patience and kindness. Another one of those nuggets that I carry with me - inside and outside the yoga room.
5. Don’t hold your breathe. For anything. For anyone. This last one, is all me. I made a joke about it. It came out with not much thought. And then it made a lot of sense. Self care. Self love. Moving forward. Forgiveness. Patience. Kindness. None attachment. Peace.