If you have been reading this blog aka the thought dump for any length of time or follow me on any of the social media channels, you probably figured out by now that I really like yoga. It wasn’t always that way and the truth is I don’t like yoga; I like how yoga makes me feel both in the moments I am practicing and more importantly after I leave the mat. In almost four years, I have gone from needing to carry a bottle of Bach’s Rescue Remedy with me at all times and knowing that at any minute I could fall prey to a panic attack so bad that the only recourse was a trip to the ER. Where after a slew of tests, the not so amused ER physician would come back to tell me that I wasn’t dying and send me on my way with some Ativan.
Yoga has brought me a sense of peace and mental well-being that even physician prescribed medications couldn’t bring. Therapy made me aware of my issues and taught me about my triggers but it seemed that the older I got, the list of triggers grew to the point that neither therapy nor medications were able to give me the tools to live the life that I wanted and desperately needed. Instead they created for me a world of dependency and left me with side effects I really didn’t want.
I am a reluctant yogi, I am a Black woman with Southern Baptist roots and a most decidedly Christian lean (liberal Christian, but still very Christian). I think it’s safe to say that you don’t see a lot of Christians in a yoga class and if you do, they often aren’t willing to divulge that tasty tidbit. Trust me, I get it. To admit you are a Christian especially in certain settings is often an invitation to have others remind you of how unenlightened you are…
So it is might be surprising that someone with such a lean not only ends up falling in love with yoga but starts off on a new path. This weekend was the first step in what I hope will eventually be the path to teaching yoga. To be blunt, I think we need nonstandard issue yoga teachers or rather teachers that don’t fit the current idea of what one thinks of when they think of a yoga teacher and as Black woman and a Christian with a 40 year old body that is decidedly fluffy, that would be me.
This weekend though was my first real step in the journey, one that I have been discussing with a few select friends and my own teacher since last year. A moment I didn’t even think was possible since with my schedule and lack of funds, who was I to dream such a seemingly silly dream. Hell, I couldn’t even bring myself to attempt a headstand until a few weeks ago! Yet today, I finished the first 25 hours of my 100 hours of Immersion workshop. (After this first 100 hours, I will do another 100 hours focused on the process of teaching)
Let me just say it’s been a weekend. For starters Saturday and Sunday started at 7am, now for most folks being up and alert at that time of day isn’t a big deal but I am not most people. I am not a morning person, throw in the fact that there was to be no caffeine on the premises and you can understand why I was more than a little nervous. Me sans coffee is not a pretty sight but I threw caution to the wind and came in with a travel mug of coffee. Talk about feeling awkward, at 6:55am everyone else is sipping their herbal tea looking quite ethereal and here I am monitoring that travel mug like a dying person looking at the morphine drip praying it doesn’t run out too soon.
Twenty folks willingly giving up an entire weekend (and a bunch more in the future) including Friday night and bonding over a desire to go deeper in their personal practice is a beautiful thing though and let me tell you, regular classes don’t prepare you for such an experience. It was an emotional, spiritual and very physical experience. I got a little cocky, allowed my ego to get in the way today and I have the aching shoulder to go with it. The mat is life; get too high up on the horse and it knocks you down and makes you take stock. It was a good weekend though even with the vegan vittles, I am pretty sure I have enough gas in me to fuel a few cars.
There were a few awkward moments especially during the discussion on food choices and my confession to the group that I like bacon. Hey, I have walked the vegetarian path and I might even end up going back to it but at the moment, I strive for moderation. But I was also reminded that this path for me is not about fitting into a premade box but creating my own box if I so choose to go into any box at all.
Despite the uncomfortable moments and it has become clear that uncomfortable will be a part of this journey, I love it…I love it all. So I give thanks to my teachers and their teachers and all that made sure that these practices could be handed down. Now let me get that salve so I can get a little relief.