Desperation has been my ticket to many things, including yoga. I took my first yoga class in 1999, because I was desperate. I had sustained a shoulder injury and had tried everything to heal it. I began to notice the blissed-out calm on the faces on the peaceful folks coming out of the yoga class at my gym. They looked yoga-stoned and I wanted some of what they had. So when I saw an offer for a free week of yoga classes, I signed up. My first svelte-bodied yoga instructor had dark curly hair and even though she was only 30, her wisdom about the practice of yoga and lack of ego made her seem much older. I liked that there was nothing fancy about her outfit, she wasn’t covered in tattoos or draped in mala beads, she was just smart and funny and real. There was nothing phony or fake about her or the way she taught. In that first class she told us to “set an intention” for our practice. Sure, I thought, my intention is to have a yoga ass like yours, so shut the hell up and lets get started! But as I began to move through the postures, I began to realize that I was sweating out my emotions. When it was time to roll up my mat, I could practically swim in the surrounding puddles.
I took classes for seven more years, and then in the Autumn of 2006 I found myself in a period of great transition: I had left my job (to avoid the very real risk of getting fired), left my boyfriend (upon discovering he’d been unfaithful), and was considering moving.With lots of leaving in my life, I was left wondering what the heck was coming.
So I took my emptiness to the mat. Not the Laundry Mat, my yoga mat. After class one of my instructors smiled and asked me, “Have you thought about taking Yoga Teacher Training?” “I don’t, I, really, don’t want to teach,” I stammered. “You don’t have to teach,” he said “but it’s a wonderful way to learn much more about the practice of yoga.”
Full of doubt, and feelings of inadequacy, I signed up. And let me tell you, I seriously sucked as a yoga teacher. My voice was too high, and I talked way too much. So I decided to try and learn Sanskrit, the language of yoga. I thought that if I could learn how to pronounce the names of the postures in Sanskrit, then at least I would sound like I knew what I was doing.
With this less-than-pure-intention, I took an afternoon workshop, and discovered that I was seduced by the sounds of Sanskrit. There was something different about the sound and the spirit of it, and I knew I had to learn more.
The love affair had begun.
My Sanskrit teacher, Manorama, taught me that when we say in English, “I love you,” love itself is seen as the bridge between two independent beings, and “I” and a “you”. But in Sanskrit we say “Snihyami Tvayi” which means something very different. It means “I place my love in you, and so we are one”.
If I hadn’t been seduced by Sanskrit, I may have missed the point of yoga: union (from the root word “yuj” = to yoke, unite). It’s led me to unity with my (highest) self, and the highest in everyone and everything. Now that’s what we call, ‘yoga high’.