“Dizzy From all this spinning”
–Dave Matthews Band
I met yoga for the first time when I bought a restorative and breathing yoga DVD at Best Buy during Christmas break in my last year of college. I was stranded in Tallahassee during another semester/holiday break where the entirety of my classmates and friends headed to their hometowns. It always left the city feeling empty and ghostlike. I could not leave town because of bills I was responsible for and the obligations I had at all three of my jobs. One night while arriving home from work to an empty four-bedroom, roommate-less house, I started the usual “poor me” thoughts about not being able to run home to a family safety net. When I stepped into my room and set my belongings on my bed, I looked down at my flea-market zebra-print rug and something encouraged me to sit down in the middle and start to meditate. I don’t recall knowing anything about meditating or figuring out why I felt the need to sit cross-legged on my floor with my eyes closed and palms up. I think I was mimicking practices I had picked up as a child when I would hide in my closet and close my eyes for comfort. Or maybe I was seeking the calming effect I had learned about in my Buddhist religion class. I sat on the floor in my room for the rest of the evening, and the next morning I woke up with the idea of learning yoga. My campus gym was closed for school break, and I am not positive that a private yoga studio was even in my town at the time, so I headed to the closest store that sold DVD’s to get my first introduction to yoga through DVD.
Over the next couple of day’s I followed my “live” instructors’ direction in my living room and quickly decided that I was easily bored, frustrated and way to distracted to commit to any type of yoga practice at this point in my life. When everyone started trickling back into town, I put my DVD away on my bookshelf and did not pull it out again until a year later when I had graduated and was out of college. I was living in Delray Beach when a friend I had met at my serving job – Torreya Grill, one of the spots where I’d worked during school breaks – gave me my first yoga mat as a birthday gift. Similar to my history of meditation, I don’t recall ever talking about yoga or giving Jessica a reason to believe that I needed a yoga mat, but it is a gift that will forever be symbolic of my love of yoga. On receiving my new Gaiam mat, we quickly made plans to get together to practice yoga, and after dusting off my old yoga DVD we had a couple “home sessions” with our new mats. But again, I was quickly side-tracked from learning yoga and used my mat instead for other home fitness activities.
Throughout the next four years of all my different fitness endeavors, I picked up yoga maybe a handful of times. I lived with a yogi who was constantly on yoga challenges, and she had dragged me to hot yoga classes. She was always giving me reasons why I, too, should be practicing yoga. It definitely intrigued me, but I was bored during yoga and I was also very intimidated by it. At age 28, I cannot touch my toes, and unlike many of the people who were practicing yoga, I can’t even come close to a split. The back bends I watched my girlfriends perform while hanging out at the beach were positions I thought might literally bend/break mine. It just wasn’t for me yet, and so I continued to be active on my yoga mat but for Pilates and those occasional viewings of my yoga DVD.
Dave Matthews Band sings in “So Damn Lucky” about being dizzy from a whole lot of spinning, and I can say that in the last year of my life I have become extremely dizzy from it all. I also consider myself pretty damn lucky to be blessed with all of the different life experiences and have finally found a place for yoga in my life. I moved to New York City, broke up with my boyfriend staffed and trained a newly renovated retail store team in a city where I’d never lived, moved my belongings through Times Square twice, and unexpectedly lost my job. A lot of these life events that caused anxiety, worry, and stress were the result of my dreams finally coming true, but that doesn’t mean that these events weren’t difficult. This year was remarkably memorable and has been a defining year of my life. Although, I moved to Manhattan with a job, I did not move to the Big Apple with a big savings account or a clear financial plan. I kid you not: The 12-foot box truck that drove all my furniture and belongings from South Florida to Manhattan, the gas for my car to follow, the renter fees, apartment fees, lease-breaking fees, food and any miscellaneous moving supplies were all paid out of a $1,500 budget I had at my disposal. I’d be lying if I said my Nan didn’t stick a few bills in my pocket, and that my wonderful friends and family did not help me over this hump. I was showered with gifts, gift cards, and so many blessings and words of encouragement, but it still remains one of the most anxious, scary time in my life. I questioned myself daily on my decision to move when I was experiencing such financial burden and so many weeks I had to stretch thirty dollars to feed me and transport me through one of the most expensive cities in the world. I truly believe it was only possible for me to do because of the experience and learnings of my meager youth. Tuna fish, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, and mac & cheese, were my go-to budget food items, and with any leftover money I would buy myself a bottle of wine to keep me company as I wrote in my journal thoughts and goals to get out of this mess.
My first apartment at the Ritz was located in midtown and was SO BEAUTIFUL! From my bedroom you could walk out onto a balcony twenty-nine floors high that overlooked Times Square to the left and Hell’s Kitchen to the right. The one side of my room was pure window, and I had beautiful wood floors where I propped my Gaiam yoga mat in the corner next to a standing mirror. This yoga mat placement, although I was still not a yoga practitioner, was placed with intent for the sanctuary I was trying to create in this stressful, anxious time. I will never, EVER forget the beauty of the city lights from my room and how I could sit out on the balcony and, if only for a second, remember to be proud of myself. I started to have visions of doing yoga gracefully on my Gaiam mat outside my large glass windows, and these visions started to become reality when I took out my mat one afternoon and turned on my yoga DVD. What was different this time around is that, after the first week, I didn’t stop. In my free time, I started Googling and searching Youtube for different yoga tutorials that I hoped to practice on my own.
After the first three months, I started to get a little more financial security as well as more knowledge of ways to spread my money more evenly and even save money. The first thing I did when I had a couple extra dollars a month was research and purchase a gym membership that fit my budget. With all of my fitness classes, I always wanted parts to be like ballet or hip-hop, and then I started to mix in yoga classes. No matter how hard it was to convince myself to go to class and be the “beginner” that I was embarrassed to be, I cannot recall one time that I did not feel an amazing sense of anxiety relief. I am always very thankful that I made it to my classes, and I always remind myself how thankful I am each and every time I practice because it has NOT been easy to get to this point of my yoga career. The goal I set in August 2013 was to at least make it to one yoga class each week, and that goal has evolved into a habit of searching for a yoga class to attend almost every single day. With the loss of my job, I have incorporated the goal to make yoga class every day. With the extra time on my hands I have given myself my first and well-deserved yoga challenge. I have finally achieved control of my finances, and in the blink of an eye the universe switched the ocean tide and forced me to seek a new way to swim out. I need and connect to yoga more these past couple of days than ever before, and I am so committed to my relationship with yoga. Every day in class, I learn something new about my body and about the different ways I can get myself into different positions. It frees my mind in such healthy ways, and keeps me from all the drugs or booze I might have looked at to ease my mind in the past. It releases the hurt, the uncertainties, and gives me so much hope like nothing else in my life has been able to. Anytime anyone is going through anything difficult in life, I often think to myself, “they need yoga”, and it’s also a hobby of mine that I am hoping to bring into other people’s lives by becoming a certified yoga instructor.
Currently, I still can’t touch my toes for long, or do a split, but I did do my first sirsasana (headstand) in class the other night! I know that if I continue to stay true to my goals I will one day make it into the positions that I only aspire to now. I love watching and learning from other yogis in class as they get into their crow poses, and I stay patient with myself as I work up the strength to one day get there, too. That is why yoga is so awesome! Everyone is at their own pace with their bodies and it might all be different for everyone as far as how they feel after. I have cried, I have become overwhelmed with energy, I have become ready for a nap, and it really just depends on what kind of practice you put in and out of your mind and body. Inhale good shit, exhale Bullshit. I love the improved flexibility and balance I have noticed I have gained since I use to consider myself very clumsy. I love yoga clothing and how free and comfortable it fits, and I feel like the techniques I am learning in yoga has helped with my love for dancing, and running, too. I also love the natural, loose bun it gives my heavy, thick hair after a 55-minute Vinyassa flow class!
I hope that you can find yoga in your life, and when your life leaves you a little dizzy, you find peace in your practice. Message me if you have any questions regarding beginner’s yoga!