This is Regina's story...experiencing yoga in her own body...
I got out of my car on this wonderful sunny morning, excited to embark upon my journey to become a yoga instructor. As I made my way across the parking lot, I came across this beautiful young lady walking in the same direction. As our eyes met, she smiled at me and asked ‘Are you in the teacher training class?’, to which I answered "YES"!
I felt very comfortable with this woman, at least from the first moment I met her. Although she was nice, in the back of my mind I’m scanning her from head to toe and realized, oh my God she’s so YOUNG, what am I doing here? I brushed that aside and continued walking with her into the studio. As the other ladies started showing up, we were all sitting or standing in the lounge area, not knowing what exactly to expect on this journey together.
There were 24 eager women in total, and two things stood out: the majority of them were young and white. The minority (4), were African American, big-boned, slim/thick, or older (you can check 3 out of 4 characteristics to apply to me – I’m black, thick, and older). I also need to factor in another variable – injuries; I had meniscus surgery about 3 months prior to our class start date. That within itself comes with many limitations.
I wish I could tell you that this journey was seamless; I wish I could tell you that I lost 50 lbs during this whole process of becoming a yoga instructor, but I didn’t. As a matter of fact, the absolute opposite happened to me. I was plagued not only by my existing injuries, but it was diagnosed with pneumonia a few months into training. I would have to say that it was the lowest part of my journey. I shed tears of frustration, wondering not only if I was going to complete this journey. This situation brought me to my knees and all I could do was sit and wonder why my body was failing and fighting me?
This low point made me realize that I have to continue to honor my body and show up for myself. I had to face the very bold realization that I am "NOT" 21 anymore. I vividly recall one day after a particular grueling teacher training, I came home and went straight to the bathroom, peeled off my clothes, and slid into a soothing Epsom salt bath sideways, like a baby seal. (Insert Laughs and Claps)
In spite of everything, I still wanted to be one of the many mavericks that are dominating in the yoga community. I strive to embody the spirit of loving not only mind, spirit, and practice, but also your body in its present state. Whether you’re 21, 41, 51 and beyond, I encourage you to boldly embrace that you ARE enough. I’ve had to shake off being my own worst critic and quell those feelings of inadequacy during those yoga teacher practice sequences where, because of my limitations many times I was forced to rest frequently, do a modified pose, or sit it out altogether. To the credit of my yoga sisters in this class, their love, support, and humor, I was never made to feel like I wasn’t part of the teacher tribe, and will forever appreciate that from them.
Please understand that Yoga is a for everyBODY. This practice goes beyond taking a picture and posting it online for likes. What we see online and in ads for big box brands is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga, Asana. Yoga goes beyond the mat, it goes beyond meditation. Yoga is for all!
Contributing Author: Regina Kiffin