How did I get here?
It was a rainy, grey morning, as usual come mid-November in Seattle. I was looking out the window from the warmth of my blanket cocoon on the couch, contemplating the 9-mile run I had planned for the morning. I was training for some-such marathon or half marathon, and I had just about reached the end of my self-motivation rope. My “no excuses” policy for my running schedule was just wanting to be broken so badly that morning. Meanwhile, my roommate Amber bounced down the hallway in her yoga gear. “Wanna come to Hot, Steamy Yoga?” She never called it just “Hot Yoga.” Always, “Hot, Steamy Yoga.” Well, the answer in my head was “No,” I had never once in my life even considered that hot yoga thing. It sounded like torture. I could torture myself with running but not heat. She then said, “My aunt did hot, steamy yoga for a month, and she had such a bangin’ bod afterwards. It burns like a thousand calories each class.” SOLD! She said the magic words. Burns calories… approximately equivalent to what I would have burned running 9 miles. It was settled, I would trade in my run for the hot, sweaty yoga class, avoid the rain, and come out even.
I don’t remember that much of the class. I don’t remember it being that difficult or even that hot. I remember the teacher. He was a gentle giant. Robert – salt and pepper hair, tiny spandex shorts and a hairy chest. I still take Robert’s class whenever I’m in Seattle. He has the kindest eyes, the calmest voice, and you just know that he wants you to be at ease – in his studio, in your body, in life. He always knows the new student’s name and always encourages them throughout their first class. Well, anyhow, I made it to final savasana. The heat didn’t do me in, and I didn’t feel that different after class but what left a strong impression on me was the teacher and the other students. I’ll never forget their unwavering focus for 90 minutes of energy and sweat, their forearm veins in final expression of Standing Forehead to Knee, their quiet reverence for the practice as they entered and exited the room. I thought about it later that day, and the day after that, and so on… I found myself back in that unique-smelling, carpeted room the following week. I just HAD to try it again. Maybe someday I could be like those other people.
Ten years later, it still has me. There is just nothing else like it. Like an old friend inviting you in for some tea and a chat. Nothing else like this series can transform my mind from chaos to calm in just 90 minutes. To change my outlook on a problem from frustration to patience. To broaden my perspective. To forgive someone. To see the answer I needed to find. I’ve said this before but I think that all of the important decisions in my life, I’ve made during a Bikram yoga class. Well, that or while running. Sure, my body has been transformed too. For the first year that I practiced, I could not bring my foot up any higher than my calf for tree pose. I can’t really even remember who I was, how I looked before this yoga but I think I can safely say that it has refined every bit of my being “inside out, bones to skin,” and especially my mind and heart.
My teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle were a constant inspiration. Their practices – so elegant, their teaching – so brilliant, their presence – strong and calm. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. If I was lucky enough to get to the studio early and have their attention before other students showed up, I would ask them about their Teacher Training. One of them said, “After training, I felt like I could do anything.” I was inspired. Maybe a bit covetous to have that feeling. I would go to the internet and explore the Bikram website and dream of applying for the training. It didn’t seem feasible though. When would I fit it in? How could I afford it? I couldn’t leave my boyfriend for 2 months. Ridiculous thoughts like that.
Well, a boyfriend less later, and a Christmas bonus richer, I found myself applying to a teacher training. It wasn’t the Bikram training that I’d always wanted to do, but it happened to be in this place, Nashville, which I had an irrational dream of moving to.
The training was uneventfully completed (I kept it a secret from my work so there was no announcing of things on Facebook during that time), and I had been slowly dreaming up the idea to open a studio in East Nashville. Though it made no sense to leave a perfectly great life in Seattle, a friend one day told me, “If anyone can do it, you can.” I knew it was true. My yoga had taught me that already. So, here I am.