I caught the yoga bug early on. As I sit here writing, I’m 41. My first yoga class was 23 years ago. Geez. Time flies, doesn’t it? I took a weekly Iyengar yoga class during my freshman year in college at the Tulane gym in New Orleans, Louisiana. My love for yoga grew much deeper when I traveled to Tamil Nadu, India during a Semester at Sea program my sophomore year.
Being immersed in the tangible spirituality of India, if even for a mere 5 days, left a major mark on my soul. As the ship sailed away from port in the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the Andaman Sea, heading for Malaysia, I was on such a natural India high, (as I jokingly called it at the time), that I totally forgot to hand my passport back into the ship’s bursor and got “dock time” as punishment.
Stuck in the ship’s gallows for four hours, (my roommate and I bunked in a berth on the lowest deck along with the crew and a handful of other students), while friends disembarked in Penang, Malaysia, jumping on ferries bound for tropical Langkawi Island without me—I sat there peacefully on my twin bed, cross-legged, reflecting upon my latest adventures on the Indian subcontinent.
I thought to myself, at least I have India. At least I have yoga.
And this became a theme for my life, a kind of mantra, so to speak. At least I have yoga.
Two decades later, and I still have yoga as my constant companion. Yoga has held my hand through serious heartbreak. It has given me a place of solace during times of grief. Whenever I’ve been tired, anxious, or weary, I’ve always known there was some kind of relief waiting for me on my yoga mat. I’ve practiced yoga nearly every day, no matter where I’ve roamed, no matter what I was doing.
My yoga mat traveled to glorious places across the globe. There was a cute Spanish apartment in the working-class Macarena neighborhood of Sevilla, Spain as I journeyed into and out of a tumultuous relationship with flamenco music and dance. (Is there any other kind?)
It has touched the raw earth of Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii during a much more peaceful, nature-oriented time of life. My yoga mat has endured a winter of discontent in Minnesota, during a relationship with someone I would become engaged to, and then disengaged weeks later.
Looking back I realize, I’ve always been a seeker. My seeking has led me outwards to 26 countries on 5 continents across the globe. It has led me inwards to study who I am—at the core of my being—during times in my life when there was truly no other choice. I was desperate for answers. This is the beauty of yoga. It can teach us so much about who we are and why we’re here in this human body—if we’re willing to listen.
As a freelance writer, I’ve written hundreds of articles within the realm of yoga and wellness for print and digital publications. I love to write. As a career, it’s been less than reliable, to say the least. But yoga and writing go together so well! And I’d like to create something here that embodies this happy companionship. Yoga has helped me stay steady within the unsteadiness of a freelance writing career, and part of the reason that I believe it’s time to start teaching yoga.
Yoga (and writing, for that matter) help us learn how to be, just as we are, where we are. Both disciplines helps us embody our human beingness, rather than the human doingness of modern life. For only when we slow down can we truly reflect. In a book I picked up from the Kansas City library this past weekend titled “The Art of Simple Living,” the author, a Zen monk from Japan says, humans are not capable of deep reflection while they are moving. I agree very much with this sentiment. And while yoga is all about movement, it’s about conscious movement, which then leads to stillness, where we can sit quietly and listen.
I love yoga for so many reasons, too many to be told on this page. But many which I’ll explore in future blogs. This journey into the heart of yoga continues to unfold in my life in amazing ways, and I’d like to invite you all to come along on these yoga adventures with me, wherever they may lead.
At Yoga Natura, I intend to share with you everything yoga has taught me over the past two plus decades, as well as everything it continues to teach me, for the path of yoga truly is an endless journey of exploration and evolution. We’ll dive into—not only the teachings of asana, pranayama, and meditation—but also philosophy, mythology, and all the practical ways these teachings can enhance our lives off our yoga mats. Positively changing the way we live and view the world is a lifelong process, and I’d like to be here with you for the long haul, as a compassionate teacher, and understanding friend.
And while we do it, let’s stay true to ourselves, and follow our hearts always. Let’s learn to live fearlessly, courageously, and without regret. By tuning into the innate wisdom of nature, the wisdom of our hearts (our souls), and the flow of this mysterious, wondrous, and sometimes tumultuous and downright messy life, we can do this. One breath at a time.