I started practicing yoga in college. As much as I'd like to say that I was this amazing introspective 22 year old who knew I needed balance between a grueling school and work schedule, taking yoga as a way to balance my mind/body connection... the reality of the matter was: I needed another PE credit, it fit into my schedule, and I figured it would be an easy A. From what I had seen, it was just a bunch of hippies laying on mats chillin' out. I thought, "honestly, I can rest and up my GPA.. sweet". Little did I know just how much yoga would change my life and the way I view what is essential to me.
I was lucky enough to have my college instructor Lar Caughlan, and let me tell you- this dude is a certified hippie. His life adventures are the stuff box office movies are made of, and the stories he used to tell in class alone would keep me intrigued enough to come back for more every week. He was a firefighter, a film maker, mountaineer, and a naturalist involved in the rehabilitation and eventual freeing of a bald eagle. He learned yoga in India and authored a book with these immensely difficult, advanced poses off cliffs, waterfalls, canyons, mountains.. He taught 4 different classes at 3 different universities each week at the age of 60+. This dude was LEGIT.
I noticed while taking the class that the hardest part of yoga was silencing my mind. I didn't understand meditation. I didn't understand relaxation. And at the time, I truly didn't know how to sit in silence with myself and my thoughts. I was 22 and ran on a constant stream of coffee, red bull, and during finals "the red eye" from the local coffee shop: 2 cups of coffee, 4 shots of espresso, a ton of sugar, and a prayer they announced while calling out my order, as in "Good God, I hope you survive this drink and I don't have to fill out paperwork if you have a heart attack". Life was crazy, and I thought that's what I thrived on. Lar's class forced me to pause. To sit. In silence. With my type A "go, go, GOOOOO!!" personality. He challenged me to do this practice daily. I can honestly say this was one of the biggest struggles of learning yoga. I was forced to turn inward and be alone with my thoughts, with my actions, with who I was as a person, and what I truly needed in order to find balance. It was awkward, uncomfortable, and weird... but oddly fulfilling. Over time, it got easier, and became something as essential as air for me. I kept taking his classes (even though I couldn't get credit for them), weened myself off the immense caffeine, and learned that I truly need balance in my life in order to be productive. I also learned that quiet time, meditation, and daily yoga are essential for my personality type. Yoga helps me center and forget about everything that isn't of importance. So you'll find me doing yoga when I'm stressed or have a big project coming up, meditating when I need to get my head right, or just when I need to take some time to reflect inward. That hippie turned me into a quasi-hippie, and I owe him the world......
A few months ago, my OB/GYN asked me what I was doing to stay healthy during my pregnancy, and I mentioned I had just started prenatal yoga, but had only been to one class. She was very excited about this, and I wondered why. I started my prenatal yoga practice at 16 weeks pregnant, and at the time, I had no major pains nor difficulty getting into my normal yoga poses. I naively assumed that it would stay this way throughout my pregnancy... oh boy (or girl?!) was I wrong. Around 22 weeks the pain in my hips became excruciating, as I moved from my "cute little hips" to "birthing hips" (something I plan on getting back after pregnancy btw!). Nevertheless, I found the poses that were usually quite restorative, were now unbearable. Then came the back pain and lack of balance. Again, a simple modified bridge brought me to near tears with sciatic pain driving me bonkers.
Going to yoga has been amazing every week, as my teacher is dedicated to helping the class ease those aches and pains, while building strength where it's desperately needed. My teacher kicks my butt with squats, lunges, warrior and tree poses, and has really helped me to understand what muscles I need to strengthen to help me on this journey. I've also learned great breathing techniques and poses that will help support my labor, and poses to do at home throughout the week to alleviate pain.
I go to the Yoga Path studio in Draper, Utah ( www.yogapath.com ) and cannot speak more highly of this studio. The classes are small, the care is nurturing, the people I've met have been great, and my teacher, Kelly, is awesome. I don't know how I would have survived with all of these changes to my body, plus working a full time job that has me on my feet all day, without prenatal yoga. I now understand why my OB/GYN was so excited I was taking up prenatal yoga, as this stuff is the bees knees :)
|Om Belly :)|