My memory tells me that my first experience with yoga was because of a suggestion by my mother. It was 2005 and I was in a deep depression. I had just moved back to the Midwest from Southern California and was going through a breakup. It was probably one of the lowest times in my life.
I had graduated college, had no job, was living at home, suffering heartache, missing California and partying too much. My mother’s friend was a nurse who moonlighted as a yoga instructor and she suggested that I drop in for a class.
I only vaguely remember that class. It was held in a room at a local college and I think there may have been a pregnant woman in the class. I’m not sure, but that’s what I remember. That’s all. And after that class I didn’t go back.
By 2009 I was living in California again and I signed up for a gym that held yoga classes regularly. I took about 20 yoga classes between May and July of that year and while I enjoyed the way I felt after class, I wasn’t drawn in enough to that particular style to continue practicing.
In October of that same year, a friend invited me to join her for a donation-based Ashtanga power yoga class at the Bryan Kest studio in Santa Monica. I attended classes sporadically (about 10 times in as many months) and while I enjoyed the physical challenge of the classes, I still did not feel emotionally drawn to the studio itself or the classes or style that was practiced.
During this same time, in 2010, I also took about 5 classes at Yogaco on the 3rd Street Promenade. The studio was wonderful and it was the first time I became intrigued with the idea of possibly incorporating yoga into a more real and permanent part of my life. The Primal Yoga class I took from Liz Arch was a defining moment in my relationship with the practice. Watching her body flex and balance while incorporating aspects of martial arts was absolutely incredible. Still though, I wasn’t drawn to any style yet in an emotional way.
Skip ahead two years and I kept noticing a hot yoga studio on my commute home from work. There was a special introduction price of $40 for the month offered to new students. The special was painted on the studio’s window and after passing it day after day on the way home from work, I thought I’d give this style a chance.
I was wanting to get in shape and lose a bit of weight and had been taking pretty intense classes at Pop Physique in Hollywood, but I wasn’t totally in love with that workout. I definitely noticed physical results and there were times I enjoyed the class, but mostly I just felt like I was going through the motions. I wanted something I actually enjoyed doing and something I felt emotionally connected to.
My first class at Moksha Yoga on La Brea was beyond intense. The room was extremely warm and the class was packed. I felt lightheaded at times and claustrophobic, but I stayed for the entire class and was proud and (very!) surprised that I was able to participate throughout the entire class. I came back 2 days later and this time, the heat felt oddly seductive. When I walked out of class and back to my car, I felt light and strong and calm. Really, really calm. I started to fall in like with Moksha.
Over the month of October, I attended 6 classes and by the end of the month I was hooked. I went 10 times over the next month and then signed up for a four-month pass. At this point, my body was changing into a tighter, taller, more relaxed version of myself, but it was my mind that was morphing the most. I would walk into practice with anxiety and sadness, and leave with clarity and happiness. Every time. No exceptions. It felt like magic. And I started to understand that I was in love. In love with the practice and in love with the person I was evolving into.
I lost weight, felt cleaner from the inside out, and was experiencing a calming and settling into my own skin. Everyone who knew me commented on how strong and slim and healthy I looked. A few people even commented on my posture. I felt fabulous and kept going to practice, addicted to the release and freedom I felt after each class.
Forget the fact that this kitten is probably better at yoga than I am…
Scratch that. This kitten is definitely better at yoga than me. But that’s okay, because now it’s February 26th and I’ve been to 35 classes in 71 days. I look forward to my time in the studio everyday and my practice has become an absolute necessity in my life. Just like sleep and water and food. I need Moksha.
So these are the mini milestones that started me down this path that I’m on now. This path of feeling like I may want to incorporate yoga into whatever it is I decide to do next.