How did I Start My Yoga Practice?

This is certainly one of the most frequently asked questions I get. And the truth is, I started practicing yoga for the same reason so many of us came to the mat. I was't looking to gain spiritual enlightenment or even improve my flexibility or strength. I was simply hoping to get myself out of chronic debilitating back pain. I have scoliosis, and that condition, combined with a terribly unhealthy lifestyle left me lying on the floor for days at a time with frighteningly painful back spasms.

I tried everything. Pain killers, muscle relaxers, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture. Nothing seemed to help. I couldn't even drive due to unexpected back spasms that would nearly cause me to crash my car! One day, my massage therapist suggested I try yoga. While I wouldn't say I was particularly jazzed at the idea, I gave it a go. If you've ever suffered from chronic pain you know, you'll try ANYTHING to relieve it.

This was over 18 years ago and since I didn't know of a local studio and googling everything wasn't really a thing yet, I bought a VHS tape from Target to practice with. It was Suzanne Deason, one of the first teachers I can recall, to make widely available yoga videos, leading me through a hatha yoga practice in her peach colored onesie. I hated every minute of it. I couldn't hold even the simplest of poses. I couldn't balance. The breathing was frustrating and exhausting. It made me angry. Infuriated actually! I was definitely not ever doing this again.

But we all know that's not how it went down. The next day an amazing thing happened. My pain was gone. GONE! I had cured my back pain with one hour of yoga! Hallelujah!!!

The miracle however, was short lived. The pain came back. So I practiced again. Then it went away. Then it came back..... I'm a slow learner, but eventually I realized that this practice was something that was going to have to stay. Everyday.

So I began to practice daily. I found a local yoga studio and started attending regularly. I liked, no LOVED, how I felt after savasana, but I still loathed the actual asana practice. I found it boring and frustrating. It was just something to be gotten out of the way each day, like making your bed or doing the dishes. I even went through my first 200 hour teacher training not having a love of the practice. It was just a means to an end. But one day, while I was practicing alone in the dark, something shifted....

To be continued in the next blog post


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