Growing up, I remember a yoga video (yes, it was a vhs) my mom had featuring a beautiful yogini wearing a purple leotard on the cover. My mom would move the coffee table out of the way and turn our living room into her studio. I remember being intrigued by the whole display. Accompanying the video was a booklet that briefly described yoga and broke down the poses featured in the video. I vaguely recall attempting to follow along several times but I was more consistent at flipping through the booklet and observing. That was my first interaction with yoga; my mom, a lady in a purple leotard somewhere on a beachside cliff, and I saw it all from the sofa in our living room.
It's funny to think back at the beginnings of things and to take time to notice how those things have progressed in life. Back then, I was probably more focused on building a fort under the coffee table in our rearranged living room than I was in whatever the heck my mom was doing. But nonetheless it planted a seed in my little mind. If my mom did it, it was probably really cool.
I've been reflecting a lot recently on the evolution of yoga in my life. I recently passed the two year mark of graduating from my teacher training. I hadn't even realized until I received a picture from a friend with a couple of us holding our certificates. It blows my mind to think of how much has changed since then. If I'm being honest, sometimes I long for the days when I was just a student. I feel like it was simpler then. As much as I adore being a teacher and sharer of this practice sometimes it can be a lot to handle. The pressure and expectations can feel burdensome even if those feelings are self inflicted. I think I probably feel that way for a slew of reasons and also because I have been so fortunate to be the student of so many wonderful teachers, I only hope to measure up.
It was many years after the living room studio days that I finally took my first yoga class. My best friend and I, budding high school lacrosse stars (only in our own minds), thought it would improve our flexibility and game. We found a class and went together. It was September 11, 2002. I remember the date for obvious reasons. In retrospect, it was a horrible idea for us to do anything in public together. We had the maturity level of gnats and every time we made eye contact we laughed uncontrollably. Double trouble. We successfully made it through the class without any hiccups and quickly learned the depths of our lack of mobility. I can't believe I'm publicly admitting to the degree of our adolescence but here goes, the teacher chose to close the practice with some chanting in remembrance of the first anniversary of September 11th and it was more than our immature gnat brains could handle. We got into a giggle fest and quickly removed ourselves from the studio. Fortunately, a miracle occurred and we managed to not disturb our fellow students and somehow we found the wherewithall to dismiss ourselves before we irrevocably shamed each other. I never went back to that studio and I'm certain if I had the balls to show up again they would have politely asked me to leave. Needless to say, I've come a long way. Depending on the situation my maturity has as well.
Today, I can't imagine my life without yoga. I am so grateful for this practice and the opportunity to share it with others. Sometimes, I want to pinch myself. How lucky am I to be on this path? It's so wild to look back and see where it all started for me. This journey hasn't always been easy, it hasn't always made sense, it's made me cry, it's made me question everything, it's made me dig deeper than I thought possible and in the end, it's always been worth it.
I think that with anything meaningful in life you've got to go the extra mile. No matter where you start or what initially sparked your interest it's important to always remain a student. Maybe you're a master woodworker, a coach, a teacher or professor, a judge, a parent, a whatever it is to you, there is always room for the student and the curiosity that keeps things new and exciting. With knowledge in any field comes a certain level of responsibility, you become an example of your skill because it's important to you. Life is challenging and sometimes going through the motions removes some of the effervescence and freshness. I'm here with a reminder that it's worth investigating why you started, again. Even if you are still "new" to something, the same lesson is relevant. Establishing a real relationship with why you started is sometimes the fuel for what propels you to the next level of your craft or practice. Perspective is a powerful teacher.
"I'm still learning." Michelangelo (at age 87)
Do yourself a favor today and allow yourself to go on a journey to your past. This is just a journey to take notice of growth not to change what could've been-- journey back for perspective not wishing to alter. Why did you start that thing, you know the one, yes, that thing? Maybe you started and didn't finish? Maybe this is your sign to jump back in? Whatever stage in your journey you find yourself take a moment to remind yourself why you started in the first place. And then congratulate yourself on how far you've come even if that's just a millimeter. No one else can do it like you do. Your voice and technique are unique, magical and important. I promise you that somewhere out there someone is searching for your perspective and guidance.
Cheers to you and all those unique things you do!
PS: For your viewing pleasure, I have scoured the internet in search of a photo of the lady in the purple leotard but to no avail. I even called my mom to confirm the vhs wasn't still in her possession. I suppose it's just better left up to our imaginations.