Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yoga True Believers

The post was inspired by the thoughtful interview Nadine had with Crescence Krueger, one of her yoga "mothers." Crescence speaks of how the powerful experience of motherhood brought her in tune with her body and, as a result, her personal yoga practice. This deepening encouraged her to pursue training as a doula, which also affected her role as a teacher. It got me to thinking about the moment, if you can pinpoint it, that your practice becomes something greater than just a series of poses.

It's what I call becoming a "true believer." And this becoming usually leads to teaching, because you want to share your personal discovery of yoga with those near and dear.

My conversion was a result of finding physical release in classes I had with a very strong and moving teacher in Washington DC. Oya Horiguchi was Iyengar-trained and also a Phoenix Rising therapist, and her sequences always brought me great relief during stressful periods (which was most of the time) while I worked in the costume design biz. I grew to crave the open, satisfied, and calm feeling I always had driving home from her studio in Falls Church. I wanted to share this feeling with my colleagues and friends, and I began a year-long apprenticeship with her, which became the beginning of my teacher career (and, subsequently, my writing one).

Pregnancy and motherhood also affected my practice, because it made labor and delivery so bearable (easy is definitely not the right word) and made me appreciate the 10 minutes here and there that I can actually slip into a Dog or two, or a short session of pranayama. The release and centering it provides is priceless when chasing two little monkeys around.

I suspect, for most people it is a combination of inspiring teacher and significant life event--whether happy (childbirth, career change) or upsetting (life-threatening accident, addicition, violent relationship). Yoga offers a way to deal with all of these situations, and with an understanding, skilled mentor it can affect your world in profound ways. You sort of become a yoga evangelist and want to share the "word" with everyone who still sees yoga as a bunch of twisty poses by goofballs in turbans (or simply a sexy workout).

Some believers can be sort of annoying, I suppose, if the urge to share is too in-your-face, but most seem peaceful, generous, and nurturing. Of course, I'm talking about all of you. You wouldn't be writing and reading if you weren't finding peace, right?

So, tell me, when did you become a true believer?


heather said...

My first Anusara class with Suzie Hurley. I was hurting, fed up with the style I was teaching, stressed over so many areas of my life. If not for that class I would probably not be doing yoga today.

A Yoga Mama is a Rama Mama said...

It's like you read my mind about my path to becoming a yoga teacher. I had both the traumatic experience, which was a bad car accident that left me in pain and depressed, and the inspiring teacher - OJ Bergeron in Knoxville, Tenn.

For months, I dealt with the pain with drugs and physical therapy. But there came a point where I was still in too much pain, and there weren't any more pills or physical therapy sessions. On top of the pain, I had anxiety attacks and a deepening depression. My friend, who was in the accident with me, suggested I try a yoga class. I'd done it before but hadn't really seen the point. After a month of going a few times a week, I noticed a significant difference in not only my pain but my mental outlook. Ever since, I've made yoga my daily prescription for living, and within a year or so of consistently practicing, I contemplated becoming a teacher. By my third year, I was.

Within a year of the accident, I wouldn't have seen it as a blessing. Yet now I do because it gave me the gift of yoga, not only for myself but for others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link love, darling! I am still more-or-less off the internet, but I just had to toss my two cents in: I became a believer the first time, the first class I ever did. I found one of my teachers the second class I ever went to, and after some ups and downs, which you've probably read about, found Desikachar, and now Mark Whitwell. Yoga continues to nurture me through all sorts of pain and change and fear and change.

Eco Yogini said...

Although I'm not an instructor, I think my moment was a class at the YMCA in St John NB. I've always found that YMCA's had open and fun teachers... not sure why. This instructor was great- Ashtanga inspired, very powerful. But he didn't do the 'Ohms'... so I always left feeling like something was missing. When I approached him about it, he said he's always wanted to do them- and the next practice we did! it was amazing.
Since then I've practiced on my own so much more and invited friends and my fiancé to explore how awesome yoga truly is. :)
I'm happy to hear that yoga 'helps' childbirth- that's something that scares the living daylights out of me! lol

Linda-Sama said...

what nadine said. said...

My yoga practice began after two serious car accidents one week apart. The speed of recovery I observed from the first few classes was so significant it made me a true believer from then.

In fact I was even more inspired by the fact that my teacher, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years prior,
had so little evidence of the disease in her body. She was introduced to yoga when she had already lost the sensations in the soles of her feet. She was then inspired by her own teacher to go to Pune in India to study with Mr. Iyengar. What resulted was a difference in physical, mental and emotional well-being that I was told previously did not exist.

By the time I was pregnant (twelve happy years of practice later :)) I was already convinced of yoga's many therapeutic benefits. Yoga not only helped me through a very lengthy labor but throughout pregnancy significantly. I can safely say I had none of the common hearthburn, no nausea, no severe fatigue, no shortness of breath.... or maybe a better way to put it is that even before these symptoms got a chance to truly surface, I was able to use my knowledge of yoga to address them.

For these reasons, it was easy for me to become and to remain a true believer. It is this enthusiasm that fuels my practice and I hope spills over into my teaching as well.

Anonymous said...

For me, I first became the Yoga nerd I am today when I attended a class with my now dear friend Pam, who was never shy to talk about the philosophy, the beliefs and the spirit of Yoga and who introduced me to Pranayama and the magick that the breath can bring.
I sometimes wonder how empty my life would feel without Yoga.
The Yogini Genie xxx

Brenda P. said...

Yoga Nerd...I love that!

Oya said...

Hi Brenda, Someone brought to my attention that you mentioned about me here. Nice to be remembered, thanks. I am glad I was able to start a yoga sparkle with you. Keep up the good work. Love, Oya