Two weeks ago, when I declared that I had fallen in love with yoga, no one cheered more loudly than my friend Kerry. Her writings on yoga have moved me to tears, and made me long to feel similarly powerful responses. Not long ago Kerry suffered the unimaginable loss of her home due to a devastating flood. The grace, calm and strength she showed in the weeks that followed provided even more proof of the healing and restorative power of yoga – and made me even more determined to get there.
Below Kerry shares the story of her journey to yoga via her Aha! moments. Kerry, thank you for being such an inspiring yogi. Namaste.
The fact that it comes as no surprise is what surprises me about my love for yoga. It’s as if I should have known. As if this path has been paved for me all along.
I was a shy child, seeking quiet and time to myself when I could find it. I would play for hours on end by myself with my dolls, enjoying every moment. My youth years were spent seeking something outside of the norm, whether it was my clothing style, musical taste or the books I read. These things ultimately did not define me but I believe it was, and is, the fact that I am inherently a seeker that draws me to yoga.
In college I continued seeking, studying Psychology and Philosophy, though neither of these landed me a good job after graduation. Shortly after college I got involved fully in life, finding work, meeting my now husband, traveling, moving, and finally settling down to have children. Never once in those earlier years did I try yoga. It wasn’t until we moved back to my home town, bought a home and I got a membership at the local YMCA. I did a yoga class there, having no idea what exactly it was, despite having studied eastern philosophies in college. I only had a very surface level intellectual idea of it. So, I went into this class in a dark, dingy room in the lower level of the old YMCA building, and took a class on a borrowed mat. I hated it. I had to keep watching the teacher and then fumbled into position. I got lightheaded and felt sick. I think I even pulled a muscle. I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough and made a subconscious decision to never go again.
Fast forward 4-5 years when I became pregnant with my second child. Instead of working out with weights and cardio, as I did during my pregnancy with my daughter, I tried prenatal yoga. Some friends had told me about this one yoga studio in the area and how great the prenatal class was. So I tried it. Being busy with my daughter, I felt some time to exercise and have quiet time would be beneficial. I had never been to an actual yoga studio before and to be honest, I was slightly intimidated. I worried that I wouldn’t fit the bill, that I was not hippie enough anymore, that I didn’t smell of oils or was not new-agey enough. But then as I walked in and found a spot on which to place my mat, I felt welcomed. We settled in and did gentle yoga and while in meditation and then in Om, I felt tingles all over my body and an energy I had never felt before. It was amazing and curious, and I wanted more. So I went back every Saturday during my pregnancy, seeking that energy and stillness. It was time for me, and it was important. It was my first of many “Aha!” moments on my yoga journey.
After the birth of my son, I immersed once again into motherhood which meant not so much time for personal extracurricular activities. I had not yet investigated my own personal yoga or meditation practice so it wasn’t until my daughter entered kindergarten two years later that I made a regular practice of yoga once again. I entered the same studio as before. The first couple of classes were great, I loved the experience and I felt sore the day after. Moving my body again felt great and taking time to quiet my mind was invaluable.
Then I had another experience in a particularly long meditation at the end of a yoga session and I knew there was something much greater to yoga than just quiet and stretching. I felt myself levitate. I felt disconnected to my body, and yet more connected to my SELF, others and the universe than ever before. I felt lifted and no longer connected with my limbs, my torso or any other part of my body. It was amazing, and when the gong chimed, I slowly became aware of what had just occurred.
I felt clear and awake for the first time. Aha!
I have found such clarity in yoga. I have found answers to muddling problems. I have cried ugly tears in yoga; I have laughed, I have been angry, I have grieved, and most importantly, I have always felt love when the session ends. Because in yoga, I see myself without judgment.
The Witness rises to the surface as I let all other chatter move by.
Each time I sit on my mat to begin a yoga session, there is always a new opportunity for an “Aha!”, and it’s that possibility that continues to bring me back. I take my practice into my daily life, and find richer, more meaningful moments as I navigate challenging situations with life and relationships.
There is no one type of person who does yoga. Yoga is for everyone. It isn’t about how flexible you are or your religious background. Each person has the opportunity to quiet their minds and find their own “Aha!”
All you have to do is show up to your mat and give yourself the opportunity to tune in always seeking what lies beyond the mental chatter.
Thank you Nancy for asking me to write this post about my yoga “Aha!” moment. I know so many find yoga hard to understand and they feel as if they are not doing something right if they don’t get it at first. Yoga may take time. Flexibility and the ability to quiet down and connect within take time too. Try to be gentle with yourself and give it time, you too will have your own “Aha!”