I remember my dance classes as a teen. The way our teacher would choreograph our sequences, the positions she would have us take. At the time, to me, it seemed that she was doing some really hard-core modern twists on old dance themes. Actually, it was yoga.
Asana, to be more precise. The physical practice by which we open our bodies, cleanse the nadis (energy channels), and prepare ourselves for the rigors of seated meditation. We were using it to stretch and prepare ourselves for the rigors of the competitive dance world, not to sit and remain still for an hour and a half. It was around that time in my life that my mother brought home a VHS tape of Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga. That tape travelled with me to college, and I bought another one, also by Rodney Yee. I think I must have used these tapes for something like 10 years, and they fed my curiosity for this yoga stuff.
These VHS tapes came with me to Chicago, where I finally, some 15 years after doing my
first Trikonasana, met my yogic match. One summer day, a friend invited me to join her at
another friend’s apartment building. This other friend has just become a yoga teacher and was
teaching in her lobby. I took her class and discovered there were more poses! started looking up
meditation schools in the area, and a yoga studio popped up. Stretching and mindfulness all in
one place? That’s pretty cool.
I started taking classes at Chi-Town Shakti in the spring of 2009, and by winter that year, I had
enrolled in their 200 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training program. I became more involved with
the school, taking meditation and chanting classes every morning and eventually asked my
guru, Sri Shambhavananda (or Babaji, for short) to be my teacher. His words: “Yes, if you will
be my student. Be careful - I’ll eat your ego!”
Having this deep connection to my Yoga practice, something rooted in long held tradition is
what keeps my whole life focused, humbled, and driven. It’s not about a sweaty workout for me,
though, those are nice, too. Nowadays, I help manage 2 different yoga studios, I teach yoga
classes, and I lead kirtan (devotional chanting) for a meditation night. My practice teaches me to
dig deeper into the potential of life, to use the quiet moments to forage through my “muck-mind”,
let the thoughts fall away, and flow with peace and equanimity from one moment to the next.
Unceasingly, with every breath, I step into the present.