Yoga: A Love Story

Apr 5, 2023

My journey to fall in love with yoga started when I was 30 years old

Yoga is something I have always been drawn to. As a child, I grew up dancing ballet. As a teenager, I was part of the cheerleading squad. As a college student I joined the gym, and spin class became the obsession. As a late 20-something, I loved circuit training and weights. As I neared 30, I started really “doing” yoga.

I live in a small town in the country. Yoga studios are not a dime a dozen here so my experience with the practice was through small weekly group sessions taught by a neighbor when I could get there in time from work, which wasn’t as often as I hoped for. Or, online classes always prerecorded or dvd’s (remember those?) and almost always done all by myself.

I loved it, every minute of it. I think at the time I felt “good” at it. I am a pretty flexible human, and while I found challenge in some poses, I found mostly ease and stretching. I found relaxation and peace. I was there initially for the super amazing, super challenging, super twisty workout. But, I was aware that there was something more, something deeper and that is where my love affair began.

I decided over a decade ago that I would someday do a full yoga teacher training course

I had a desire to dive deep, to really learn what this beautiful twisty workout was all about, to grow and also to learn how to do a handstand—if I am being totally honest. It went on my bucket list and there it stayed for years and years. The dream got buried and tucked away safely deep in my heart. I checked into semi-local (meaning at least an hour away from home) yoga teacher training offerings. I went to different classes to see if I felt any connection to any particular teacher or studio. I continued my personal at-home practice long after the neighbor moved away. I dove into meditation. I mastered some cool twisty poses and failed at so many more. And then… I met the teacher I was looking for all those years.

The meeting of that beautiful soul is a story for another time because she deserves that space and time, but meeting her reminded me of that long-buried dream. I believe that when you are ready, your teacher will appear. It was our third, maybe fourth, encounter ever when I asked her if I could join her teacher training program. It was the summer of 2021.

I had just turned 41 and my mom had recently passed away. I was in the depths of grief and therapy, and quite honestly, I was lost. I guess I wanted a path, a transformation, or maybe I was looking for something personal and meaningful and just for me to focus on as I faced the long often lonely journey of grief I was on. Whatever the reason was, I began my 200hr teacher training in January 2022 virtually with a group of Canadian women who, little did I know, would be a part of my love affair.

I started this yoga teacher training journey simply for my own learning

I had ZERO intention to ever teach anyone, EVER. I was fulfilling a bucket list item, making a personal dream come true, learning all about one of my favorite things, and falling deeper in Love. I am an excellent student. I started early, I worked ahead, and I bought and read so many books on the recommended reading list. I was ready, I was excited to dive in. Let’s go!!!!!

It was SO FUN! I loved every single minute of it. I was learning so much more about yoga than I ever expected… and not at all what I thought I would… um, like what about that handstand?

I was learning about all 8 branches of yoga, the Yamas and Niamas, yoga philosophy, anatomy, and all about muscle groups and fascia, the different types of asana practice, mediation, chakras, Samskaras and Sankalpa’s… Yes, yoga is in fact so much more than those cool twisty poses.

Turns out, this love affair was also helping me find a deep connection with myself.

I soon realized that I was actually going to have to teach yoga

I mean, to my classmates. They make you do that to pass the course…. OK, OK, but really, I am NEVER going to actually teach this out in the world.

Let me walk you through this conversation in my head, maybe you can relate… “No way am I a yoga teacher. I am too fat. I can’t do a handstand yet! I am not good enough to teach. I am way too fat. I don’t look like so and so, she is fit and thin and blonde and I am pretty sure she can do a handstand and an extended side crow. I am just here for my personal growth and learning that’s all. I am too fat.”…

Anyone resonate?

I taught my first 10-minute sequence via zoom… that 10-minute sequence took me HOURS to create. I was a sweaty nervous mess, and I was so grateful when that was over. I was defiantly not going to teach people, no way, not good enough. I will continue with this personal learning and this personal growth which was actually becoming an integral part of my grief-healing journey. I was developing a deeper connection to myself. I was unlearning a whole lot.

I was starting to heal my heart through the practice of yoga.

Then came the time to head to Canada for a 10-day immersion

100 hours of my 200 hr course was to be done in person… with strangers I only knew over the computer and my one teacher who I had met only four times in person. My immersion began on March 28th. The 1 year anniversary of my mom’s passing.

On that first day I was greeted by strangers turned instant friends with hugs and genuine smiles and laughter. We were asked about our intentions for immersion and a few of us shed some pretty vulnerable tears. I remember saying I was hoping to complete my circle of healing, I was asked what that healing would look like. I said something along the lines of Vitality and Vibrancy. I was missing that.

As the immersion continued, I realized this hard truth… I would have to prepare and teach a 45-minute sequence to my classmates

OH NO! I mean listen, first of all, I was quickly becoming aware of the fact that I actually was not that great at yoga like I always thought I was…. I was actually never in proper alignment or engaged correctly so now I had some serious doubts about being “Good Enough”. Also, remember my 10-minute sequence took hours to prepare.

This immersion was 10 hours a day for 10 days. We were being stretched and pushed in all sorts of beautiful ways, I was head over heels in love with all things yoga and I was also so exhausted. There was no time. I was NOT Ready! Guess what? Ready or not, they make you teach to complete the course… it is after all Yoga TEACHER Training. Oh right.

I taught first on the second day of us students teaching each other. I don’t actually remember teaching to be honest, I have to watch the recording to see how it all went down, but I do know something in me shifted. I stepped into a role I never thought I would ever be able to do, Yoga Teacher.

I remember tears at the end of my sequence… yes, mine, but also some of my classmates.

Melissa doing a yoga stretch outdoors with water behind her.

I realized then what YOGA actually is all about

It’s about a deep deep connection to self. It’s about finding who you truly are. It’s about listening to your heart and your body. It’s about feeling. It’s about regulating our nervous system. It’s about how you show up in the world. It’s about awareness and openness. It’s about self-acceptance. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about letting go. It’s about healing in all sorts of beautiful ways. It’s about LOVE.

I left that 10-day immersion, certified as a 200hr yoga teacher and already signed up for the 300hr course. The love affair must continue. I left having realized my intention of “completing” my grief healing cycle was completely bogus, it will never be complete and that is the beautiful cycle of grief and love.

I did however find my Vitality and my Vibrancy again or as I like to call it My SPARKLE. Most importantly I left that immersion not only deeply connected to myself but also to an amazing group of women who probably know me better than most people in my life. They are all such a huge part of my yoga love story because yoga is also about community, and I found my place with them.

YOGA, A Love Story… what does it look like now?

Now that I made that deep-rooted dream a reality, I checked my teacher training course off the bucket list. Now that I am 300hr certified and have taught many more sessions… yes they make you teach A LOT to complete that 300hr course, go figure!

My love story continues. Yes, indeed it does because now I not only continue to practice and stretch and grow and learn… 300hrs just skims the surface of knowledge… I also Teach YOGA.

My hope is to light up that inner sparkle and maybe spark a little Love affair in others.

This Love story continues because… it is such a good one!

Until Next time friends. I Cherish You and I am Celebrating You.

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