My Yoga Journey: From There to Now

When I was younger, I always felt that Yoga was something only "weird" people did or was an activity just for people who wanted to say "om."  I can't really remember what gave me that impression, but it was never an activity that I had interest in.

I've been active for most my life; I took dance lessons from age 4 until I graduated high school, played softball and walked all around Philly as a college student.  Needless to say, I've always been pretty flexible and in shape.  Some girls that I went to college with had started going to the yoga classes that the gym offered and kept talking about how fun it was an that I should go.

In the beginning it was tough to make time for class.  The girls would go Wednesday nights at 5:45 and left around 5:30 to go together. I'd get out of class right at 5:30 and would book it over to the gym to meet everyone for class.  There was maybe 1 or 2 times that we all went together but seriously, after the first time that I went I was hooked.

I struggled during my first class with a lot of different poses and flows.  I did the best I could and really impressed myself with how much I was able to do during my first class.

I think a lot of people expect their first yoga class to be embarrassing and/or intimidating.  But really it's invigorating and encouraging.  Each student in the class is at a different level and it doesn't matter how good you are or not.  Yoga is called a practice for a reason. No one is perfect when they start and there are yogis who have been practicing for years who still are not perfect, including myself.

I still fall in class, there are still moves or poses I don't know how to do or can't do. But the point of the practice is to try.

Originally I started yoga only to get into shape and tone my body. But I stayed because of what the classes did for me mentally and spiritually.  My first instructor, Jacqui was always encouraging, helpful and challenged me to take the next step. I spent about 4 to 5 months taking her classes before moving home after my college graduation that June. On the day of my last class I went up to her and thanked her for all that she had taught me and enlightening me in the beginning stages of my practice.

I think how far you go in your first stages really depends on the connection you have with your instructor. It's definitely hard at first to find the right instructor or even the right studio for you. You should never get discouraged if your first class doesn't go as you had originally planned. If the first place you go doesn't work out, there's always a handful of places you can go and try instead.

When moving back to New Hampshire for several months, I continued my practice with my mother at the studio she went to. Her instructor Kim brought forth a different side of yoga and instruction to me that I didn't experience with my first instructor. It wasn't a bad different but it challenged me more mentally and challenged my strength as well. I didn't practice as often as I had wanted when I made my move back home but it was probably the time in my life that I needed the spiritual guidance the most. I lost my first grandparent, I worked a job where I felt like I didn't belong and later I suffered through another heartbreak with someone I truly cared for.

Upon moving back to Philadelphia in 2014 I started up again and pushed myself to continue with my practice, even if it meant watching and doing the youtube videos that I found on my own. By the end of that summer I was finally able to do my bound headstand without the support of the wall. That moment in my practice was so rewarding and stimulating; stimulating in that it only encouraged me to continue with yoga and that over time I can really do anything that I put my mind to.

In time with the help of my sister I was able to find some yogi's to follow on instagram and I started to do their monthly yoga challenges starting in early 2015. Also in the new year I had found a new studio to practice at that offered a lot of different types of yoga including Yin, Vinyasa and restorative classes. The instructors at Yoga Path Studio in Moorestown felt more like teachers and friends instead of just the instructor I went to each week to listen to their old routine. Each teacher at YPS has a different approach to teaching even though they have all received very similar training. And quite honestly, this was the first studio I practiced at where we actually said 'OM' at the beginning and end of each class! And it never felt weird! After being a part of their yoga family for several months I had a class with the owner of the studio by chance. Veronica, the owner, generally teaches many of the morning classes but I was lucky enough to have her as a sub for one of the night classes. For the first time in a long time, it felt like I found a teacher who really understood me.

Through each class, instructors like Veronica help guide me through my practice and strengthen the foundation I have created with my other yoga experiences.  I will admit, as of late I've been less active in my practice and haven't been making the time to go to class or practice on my own like I use to.  Instead of it being a daily practice, I've been using it as a coping method.  There is nothing wrong with treating my yoga practice as a coping method but I do want to devote more time to become better and closer to finding my inner peace.

The one thing about yoga that has really inspired me is people like you reading my blog and following me on instagram. Having people reach out to me for advice on how to start your own yoga practice is also inspiring to me. I've never considered myself to be any sort of "master" of yoga but when friends or even strangers ask me to give advice or go to a class with them it brings me so much joy knowing I'm helping someone else begin their own yoga journey.  Whether it's for a few months or a few years I am more than happy to be the one who helps bring them into their practice.

I hope that over the next few years I will continue to develop and grow in my practice and eventually start teacher training.  Being a yoga instructor is definitely an end goal in my mind and will help bring my own practice full circle.

If you feel like you have more questions or just want to chat yoga with me, please feel free to contact me via instragram, facebook, email or in the comments.  I hope my post has inspired you and maybe given you a better understanding to why I made the choice to bring yoga into my life.

May all living beings be happy and free. And may the actions and thoughts of my own life contribute, in some way, to that happiness and to that freedom for all. . . Namaste


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