I Didn’t Know I Would Grow Up to Be a Yogini

How did that happen?

The source of my Ganges

In the mid 1990s, I experienced several losses and a great deal of stress on several fronts trying to make everything fit into a shrinking clock. As a result my immune system took a dive. I was making a career of doctors’ appointments that were addressing symptoms, but were not dealing with the cause of
my health issues. I felt I was in a downward spiral.

I saw an ad in the newspaper for a meditation class at the Syracuse Zen Center. I enrolled for a six-week session. As I moved into the practice, I found my days becoming easier to handle. I discovered a center of calm and peace within myself.

Encouraged by these results, I decided to add a yoga class to my meditation practice. I found one but it lasted for only six weeks. Yoga wasn’t popular in this area at that time. I persevered. I found classes here and there. I was a yoga nomad. As I practiced, I found that I became stronger, healthier and happier.

Every morning, as I walked by a vacated dance studio in the building where I worked, I thought to myself, “this would make a good yoga studio.” I hired a teacher and convinced a group of women to enroll. The teacher was good, but after several weeks, she wanted to spend time with a new grandchild. She left. I hired another teacher. She also taught for several weeks and decided she didn’t want to come out in the evening. I hired a third teacher.  After the third, class, she didn’t show up.

I sat facing a group of students looking at me waiting to learn yoga. I shared what I knew, but didn’t feel knowledgeable enough. The photo of the women you see here were my very first students. They encouraged me to go on. I call them the source of my Ganges, the source of the sacred river upon which I began and continue to sail. I found a 90-hour training fifteen miles away in Kripalu-style. I learned a lot; still I knew I needed to learn more. I began searching for a 200 –hour Yoga Alliance sanctioned teacher training. The teacher training all seemed so far from home.

A friend encouraged me to apply to Open Sky Yoga in Rochester, NY, less than two hours from my home. That was do-able. Now my worry was how I would keep up or fit in with alignment-based yoga made up of a group students most likely younger than I. I was in my fifties.

The program was more than teaching asana (poses) and pranayama (breath work.) It included study in philosophy, anatomy and ayurveda (the health science of yoga.) I was especially interested in ayurveda. My interest was in helping others heal as I healed. My friend continued to prod me to apply for the program. I had so much on my plate then, but I sent in my application.

The duration of the program was six months –January to June. It was a grueling challenge of balancing family, maintaining our family business, traveling the NY State thruway once a week plus one or two weekends a month, keeping up with my yoga studies, teaching a weekly class and dealing with grief. My mother had passed away less than two months before I began the training. I believe now that I would have drowned in grief without my training at Open Sky Yoga.

At graduation, I sat in the closing circle amidst rose petals, tears and new friends/fellow teachers. I knew in my heart I had heeded a call.

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