Yoga has been part of my life (off and on) since 1994. Prior to this, my only insight into the practice was a few magazine articles I had read in random fitness/health magazines such as Shape, Fitness, Self, etc.
I signed up for a hatha yoga class as one of my courses during my last semester in college. University of Delaware actually offered a semester of yoga — I recall thinking “how cool”. The teacher, some what of a hippie, was a mild-mannered petite woman in her late 50’s/early 60’s. She had been practicing yoga since the 70’s. She had a yoga mat! This probably sounds like a strange observation, but no one else in the class had one. Stores near the University didn’t sell yoga mats. The Internet was commonly referred to as the World Wide Web and few had access to this new technology in 1994. So I found a cushy foam fitness mat covered in maroon and blue fabric at the local sporting goods store. The semester class was structured with some practice, discussion and tests. Yes, I actually had yoga tests.
I moved to the Washington DC area in Jan ’95 and brought my cushy piece of foam with me. Eventually, I ditched it in exchange for the public mats at local gyms. At home, I learned to just practice directly on the floor. During my first couple years in Arlington, VA, I developed an irregular home practice as well as took classes at Sun & Moon Yoga (one of the few studios in the area back then). The classes were paced slowly and at times bored me. In ’98, I started taking Evolved Yoga on Sundays at Gold’s Gym in Roslyn. The teacher’s name was Dawn (she still teaches this style in the area). Her abs were like steel, and probably still are because of her dedication to yoga. She’d always walk in with a box of old ties which functioned as yoga straps and play new age music. There were only about 5-6 people in every class. I remember thinking the whole thing was kind of strange but I kept going back. For some reason, I was attracted to yoga. Plus, it was included in my gym membership. I never could fully justify paying to “do yoga”; thinking it’s an organic practice.
For the next couple years, yoga continued to be an irregular occurrence in my life. I’d go back to Sun & Moon sporadically, go to Gold’s, practice at home with a couple videos (that I never could fully get into), bought some yoga magazines, books, etc. In 2001, I got my first yoga mat. It sounds kind of funny to note this, but I do think that this is about when my practice became part of me. In 2002, I discovered Power Yoga. Still not willing to justify spending the money on yoga class, I built a home practice using Bryan Kest’s DVDs and continued to mix the power style with the “gentle gym” yoga at our neighborhood Gold’s (no more Dawn).
In 2003, I stumbled upon Hot Yoga/Bikram in the Arlington County Parks & Recreation catalog and signed up for classes. My practice became stronger (thank you Penelope) as I started to experiment by taking classes and afternoon workshops at different studios in the area. During this time, I began to see the value in being taught in the presence of a teacher. This is when I started to think about teaching, but never thought I could do it. I continued to take classes around the area and periodically thought about teaching but fear and doubts about myself always quickly shutdown my thoughts of teaching yoga. This doubt stayed with me until the summer of 2005 when I signed up for a yoga teacher training program at Down Dog Yoga in Georgetown.
Early 2006, I completed my 200-hour yoga certification at Down Dog. It was a great experience and has altered my path in life (thank you Patty!). Though I’ve started my journey as a teacher, I still have so much to learn as both a teacher and student of yoga. Learning is a lifetime endeavor even for teachers. I’m looking forward to the days ahead, learning more and sharing yoga with others.