Namaste. I’ve probably said that word more than 10,000 times since beginning my yoga practice in 1996. I was desperate, like many of my students are now, to find something to help me. I was working in sales, trying to finish my undergraduate degree, lonely and stressed out. This was the first time in my life I was living away from my family and I didn’t want to fail. I prayed for guidance while sitting at one of those 2 minute traffic lights that are way too common in Southern Florida. I remember the thought prior to that prayer; if I had a gun in the glovebox I just might use it. That’s when I knew I had reached my limit. But this wasn’t my first wake up call.
When I was 15 I ran away from home. My father and I were constantly fighting and with 4 younger siblings still at home and some older ones coming and going, I felt invisible. So I decided to disappear. I found myself living in a house with my older boyfriend and his big brother, who just happened to be the leader of a motorcycle gang. I had unknowingly gotten down to 89 pounds from all of the stress of being away from my family in a
strange place and I felt empty inside. I stepped onto the dirty scale in the bathroom one morning and saw the proof, something wasn’t right. And when I glanced up at the full length mirror and saw a fat person I knew inside that something had to change. That was my first recollection of that little voice inside that I now call my intuition speaking to me.
So sitting in my car that day I again felt the rumble of something, a guide if you will, saying that it was time to take action. So I prayed, dear God, please help me to not become like my father. I felt impatient and stressed out, his daily way of existing with eight children to feed, the biggest house on the block to maintain and a fulltime job that sometimes kept him away from home overnight when winds and storms brought down the electrical wires.
That day I realized that burning the candle at both ends, as Dad called it, had finally caught up with me. Back in Michigan I had been attending a church where I finally felt at home and here in Florida I had found one with that same energy. This church was extra special, though, because this is where I would soon find yoga. Or as they say,
yoga would find me. So the next Sunday I went to get my holy fix. After service I noticed a sign hanging on the wall for an ongoing Saturday morning yoga class from 10am until noon. I wondered to myself what that was all about. I’m not sure if I had ever heard anything about yoga. Even my hippie older siblings had not mentioned it and yoga at that time was only being practiced from videos and books.
So the following Saturday I decided to give it a try. I thought that maybe this was the answer to my prayer. That day was my very first yoga class. I had no idea that this magical practice would soon change my life in so many ways. I sat in the first class, listening to my first teacher talk about yoga and it felt like she was speaking a foreign language. But on some deeper level I also felt that this could be my saving grace. And it was!
I practiced religiously with Mataji every Saturday morning for three years until I graduated. The other students and I giggled behind her back at her quirkiness, her inside jokes about awareness and kundalini energy that only she understood. She was a delight and seemed a bit nutty. But now, 25 years later, I get it! It actually took me about a year of practice with Mataji before it all started to sink in. Suddenly one day the things she was saying didn’t seem so absurd. It was like something inside of me started to open and an old form of wisdom started moving inside of me again.
Looking back on it now I know it was my consciousness that was actually awakening. It was like I was remembering something that I already knew and it felt very familiar. It was as if a part of me that was lost was being recovered or uncovered. Now I know that it was the beginning of my beginners mind awakening. What I did not know is how far it would eventually take me.