When people ask me how long I’ve been practicing yoga, my initial response is usually, “Since I was a teenager”, but really, I should probably only count the last 3 years. Why? Because like with a lot of things in life, my relationship with yoga has ebbed and flowed over the years. It’s evolved from being just a cool way to exercise that I’d fall in and out of love with, to a more consistent and dedicated "practice" that I now consider to be the single most important tool I have for my personal well-being—both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, what caused the shift from serial yogi to dedicated practitioner? Finding the style of yoga that was right for me. Wait…yoga has “styles”? Ohhh, does it ever, and I can tell you from experience that one size does not fit all. I've had "one-night-stands" with yoga studios that left me feeling empty and unfulfilled, but like in the world of love, when you find "Mr. Right", you just know. It resonates with you like no other and you find yourself committing without hesitation. Before you know it, you and Mr. Yoga Right are head over heels (or is it heels over head?) in a monogamous yogic relationship. Or at least that’s how it happened for me...
One yogi’s journey will differ from the next, but for me it looked a little bit like this:
Point A (1998): My mom’s Kathy Smith, “New Yoga Basic for Beginners” VHS: “What’s yoga? Oh, cool. It’s stretching, and deep breathing, and when it’s over you feel really relaxed. I think I can get down with that”.
Point B (2003-2006): Practicing “Power Yoga” with an Ashtanga teacher all through my college career: “Power yoga...wait isn’t that an oxymoron? Oh well, this is making the stress of college much less crippling, and woah, look at me in a headstand!”
Point C (2007): My first foray at an official yoga studio after college for a heated Vinyasa class: “Wait, when did yoga get so sweaty? I’m not really sure why it’s 95˚ in here, but holy crap, any kind of yoga makes sitting at a desk all day bearable. I feel like a person again”.
Point D (2010): When a friend forwarded me a Living Social deal for a yoga studio in my neighborhood and I was introduced to ParaYoga, the style of Tantric Hatha Yoga that I primarily practice, and my first “real” teacher: “YES. I didn’t even know I was missing anything until I found this. And wait, yoga gets deeper—a hell of a lot deeper—than just asana? Mind = blown”.
Point E (2013): When my insatiable desire to continue my study of yoga lead me to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I’m in the midst of a 200-hour teacher training lead by Karina Mirsky, a senior certified ParaYoga teacher (who is continuing to blow my mind with yoga): “Omg, I’m only scratching the surface in these 200 measly hours. When’s the 500-hour training? I want in.”
And Points F-Z are yet to come. Your yogic journey will undoubtedly look different than mine, but what I’m getting at is that there’s a style of yoga out there for everyone. Some people will hit their yogic sweet spot in a Bikram class, while others will find their om in a Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Forrest, Kundalini, Anusaua, Viniyoga, Svaroopa, Sivananda, Yin, or Restorative class—just to name a few (really, there’s more where that came from, just Google it). The key is to explore, and then to dive deeper when you find that connection. In my experience, that’s when you get to the good stuff.
How did you find the right yoga for you? Share your story in the comments below!
Danne Dzenawagis is a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, and aspiring yoga teacher based out of Ann Arbor, MI, originally hailing from the sandy shores of Cape Cod, MA. Five years ago she started the blog, 12 Months of Lent, where she assigns herself a different personal challenge to complete each month, documenting her experiences and antics along the way. You can follow her online at www.12monthsoflent.com, and also onFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram.