My Yoga Journey, Part 1: Discovery


Fish

I discovered yoga through a book on Sivananda yoga. My freshman year of college, a group of us went to the bookstore, and a friend looking for a book on woodworking stumbled upon the Sivananda book. She was intrigued and showed it to me. I was blasé until I saw the plough pose. I had loved to flip my feet over my head during my childhood days in the exact same manner. So I bought the book. And I worked my way through the series. In my tiny studio apartment, on the carpeted floor, in old shorts and a worn out tank top. Don’t let the fur rug fool you – I just dragged that out to make my photos a bit more interesting.

After a few years, I tried a class at my gym, called Hatha Yoga. At the time I had no idea what types of yoga there were, but this was familiar. While the flow of the class was different, the poses were the same, and I seemed to have okay if not good form in the poses. So I was satisfied and never went back. I much preferred to practice on my own, without someone talking, talking, talking the entire time I was doing, doing, doing. And back then, doing I was.

Cobra

My practice was partly my workout, and partly a challenge. “Let’s see if I can get my body into this crazy pose!” Often I did, though not with the strength and grace I’m capable of today. I did headstand, but I threw myself into it, wobbling and falling multiple times. Shoulderstand was my favorite pose for quite some time, because I found it very easy. At the beach with my family, I managed to get my feet to my head in cobra for the first time, and I was ecstatic. This was a pose I had done in gymnastics as a child and never could get all the way into. Not long after achieving feet to head in cobra, I managed to do the Sivananda locust pose, which looks a bit more like scorpion. Again, I was excited and proud to achieve these poses that didn’t look possible.

My practice wasn’t daily or even regular back then. I sometimes followed the recommended sequence of asanas, and I sometimes just did whatever cool-looking poses I wanted to do that day. I had a horrible sense of timing and could never get my mind off how long I had been holding the pose. Had I held it too long? Not long enough? Tick, tick, tick.

But the best part about the practice during those days? It was free. It required nothing other than a little space. I could do it at 4 am if that’s when I got home, or at 3 pm if I had a little free time. I didn’t need special clothes or props or a gym membership. I just had to stop what I was doing and concentrate on my body. Which of course, I didn’t realize then, at the time, that I was stilling my monkey mind, the one that was always racing with to-dos and art history facts. But I was, and though I wasn’t aware of the fact, I’d like to think it helped keep me a little calmer, a little more focused in those years. It definitely kept me limber and flexible, which I appreciate today.

Learn more about my yoga journey: Read Part 2: Music, Part 3: Meditation, and Part 4: Aerial Yoga.

Forward Bend

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