There's so many reasons why people turn to yoga. Some people begin to practice yoga as a fitness regimen and they soon find out that theres so much more that yoga can offer them. Other people adopt yoga into their life purely as a spiritual practice and then slowly turn it into their fitness practice. Another category of people begin to practice yoga as a means to physical therapy. They are healing an injury and when its all healed, they continue to practice yoga and go over and beyond what they ever thought they could do in terms of strength and flexibility. And still another category of yogis turn to the practice for mental stability and calming meditation. You don't have to fit neatly into one of these categories, you could blur the lines a bit and probably fit into 2-3 of these categories, or create new ones.
I began to practice yoga for the purposes of working out and as a calming moving-meditation mechanism. It was a way to get out of my thinking mind, move my body, and breathe deep for a purpose. Another big reason why I loved coming to my mat was because it was non-competitive and non-judgmental. I felt safe in the yoga room. No one was looking at me and making snap judgements if I couldn't do a pose or if I fell over. No one cared. Everyone had their eyes on their own mat and was super focused on themselves. I could turn the competition on for myself if I felt like I needed it that day or turn it off and not care about how "good" I looked or how "well" I was moving on the mat. I am not a competitive person by nature. I just don't enjoy competition. Being in Hollywood and trying to bust into the entrainment industry… everything was about competition and I just couldn't hang… So I loved walking into the yoga room and turning all that nonsense off.
Rewind…. to my first yoga class ever…. Here's how my yoga journey began (the shortened version)… My best friend took me to my first yoga class in high school. As we rode our bikes there, she told me that I was going to love yoga and she was absolutely correct. The first class that I walked into was dark, hot, sweaty, challenging, and I was hooked. I began to practice at the local gym about once a week. The rest of the week, my after school activities consisted of required dance team classes.
Fast forward to college… I studied acting, musical theatre, and vocal arts and I danced in The Repertory Dance Company at the University of Southern California. I was going to be an actress in LA, no backup plan. After graduation, I started to prowl the industry for an agent and auditions. People have told me that the entertainment industry is a challenge to break into, however people didn't express enough to me of what a mind-f*** it truly is. I needed sanity and someone or something to pull me back down to earth. I remembered taking yoga class in high school and I needed that feeling again.
I jumped right back into yoga class and felt a little bit better about myself and life. After about a year of steady practice I wanted more in-depth knowledge, so I enrolled in teacher training. I had no intention of being a yoga teacher, I just wanted to deepen my practice and knowledge. Teacher training blew my mind. The readings and lectures I devoured helped to change a lot of the way I viewed myself and people around me. When we held mock classes and I was at the front of the room teaching, I felt more in my element than anything else I had ever done. I was a natural teacher. I owe a lot of my ease in teaching to my acting and performance training. I knew that a big positive shift in my life was about to happen.
So, my deep love of yoga had begun by exploring my own personal practice; founded in my intention to stay grounded and centered amidst the anxieties of our fast-paced and sometimes overwhelming modern life. As a teacher, I understand that people come to yoga for different reasons and yoga means different things to different people. It could mean a safe sanctuary in which they could experiment and create shapes with their body and figure out their artistic expression. It could be a type of church where they go to set intentions and pray for what they desire and figure life out through moving and breathing. It could also just be purely a means of fitness for them, but then they discover something greater and more meaningful then just doing crunches and lunges. What yoga means to my current students and to my future students is quite vast and I want to always create a safe space for them to explore their self-transformation within their yoga and meditation experiences. I hope people come with an open mind and a willingness to seek new meaning to yoga and to life.