I started my yoga journey in San Francisco, CA at a Bikram Studio in the Haight Ashbury. It was a very stressful time during school. I enjoyed the class. It was repetitive. It was hot. It was, above all else, a challenge that I loved - a challenge of my mind. I started volunteering for the studio so that I could take a class every day of the week for free. After moving back to Missouri, I didn’t practice yoga much but the lessons stayed with me.
My friend, Miranda Huffman, got her yoga teaching teaching certification during this time and had always been someone who inspired me. I feel that we have always been connected more deeply like two souls that were supposed to meet. After attending a few classes, I started making excuses as to why I couldn’t make it and refused to practice. It wasn’t my time I suppose. During this time, I made my first trip to India.
While I was there, I set out on finding a yoga retreat that was going to be within the budget I could afford and something that would be transformational. I found Lotus Nature Cure in Goa. The flight was only $100 roundtrip and the retreat was within my limited means. I left, on my own, to a land that I had never been to before and had no idea what was to come. I surrendered to all my fears and my life has been forever changed.
I ate food prepared by nature. I did yoga twice a day. I had several Ayurveda treatments that I have not experienced before. Honestly, I had no idea what Ayurveda was at the time. It was one of the first times that I can claim that ‘I found myself.’ Embarrassingly, it was my EAT PRAY LOVE MOMENT.
I would walk to the beach and take photos of the local people there. I took photos of myself doing yoga poses in the back residential streets. To this day, there is a marked difference in my photography of people.
I moved to India with my partner and 4 dogs 6 months later. I had hit a low point in my life within these 6 months. I contemplated why I was put on this planet, lost friendships that I thought were important to me and thought that I was at the lowest point in my life. In hindsight, I was shedding what did not serve me and living a high point in my life. This gives me chills to say even now because I really thought that my life was over. I was taking antidepressants to alleviate my anxiety, depression and my own thoughts of suicide. It felt like one of those dreams where you are screaming but no sound comes out and, even if you did produce sound, no one could understand you.
I got very sick on our final leg of the initial move from London to Mumbai. I truly believe this was my physical body getting rid of all the toxicity I carried. I don’t remember 2 whole days after we arrived except for vomiting before our luggage was first brought up to our apartment. While walking in late February of 2017 in the Santa Cruz district of Mumbai, I was contemplating what was to come next. I confronted the fact that my surroundings were no longer to blame and all the people that pained me were no longer present. I couldn’t point the finger at circumstances or people any longer. The finger was to be pointed solely at me. While walking with my head down, completely empty on the inside, I ran into a French man and an Indian man with his eye covered by a gauze patch. They asked, “What are you doing?” I explained to them that I was just walking around exploring the area. They insisted that I had to check out The Yoga Institute which was one and half blocks away.
I have never run into these two men again but I am grateful for them like God sent them to me. I walked to the campus and took my first yoga class in Mumbai. It was one of those experiences you can’t explain but you know that it is absolutely right. The next day, I enrolled in The Yoga Institute’s 1-month Teachers Training Course. A week later, the training began on the 1st of March.
I struggled with sitting for 8 hours on a marble floor. I struggled with comparing my overweight body to the fashion models that were in the class. I struggled with the cultural differences in the learning styles as I was learning accents, a different language (Sanskrit) and all the distractions of horns honking and airplanes flying above the campus. It wasn’t until the second week of the course that the feeling of making the right choice started to come back to me. I noticed changes in my body because it was more comfortable to sit in Sukasana on the marble floor than it was to sit on the couch.
The studying began and I started to feel the confidence in my decision. I started to visualize what being a teacher would look like. I started dreaming of a career in yoga. I graduated on my birthday with my 200-hour certification at the end of March and didn’t realize that this was just the beginning of the journey.
To Be Continued…