Have you ever been asked, "how did you find yoga" or "how did you get into yoga"? I think this was one of the first questions I was asked after completing my first teacher training back in 2008. Honestly, I had to think about it because at one time in my life I found yoga, but then later on, yoga found me. I believe I first found yoga after my scoliosis correction surgery in 2000 because my surgeon encouraged me to do exercises to keep my core strong to avoid long term back pain. Yoga didn't really find me until 2005 when my sister and close friend invited me to a class, my first date. I had been through a horrible break up and was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do anything, but to my surprise I instantly fell in love with hot power yoga. There were areas of my body I didn't even know could be sore that were sore, yet I needed more.
I'm grateful that yoga found me in Cleveland. We have such a fantastic yoga community here in Cleveland and it doesn't compare to anywhere else. I've had so many life experiences that have helped shape who I am as a person and as a teacher, and that continue to teach me lessons and allow me to teach my students lessons. Even when we don't agree with everything happening around us or to us, we learn through yoga and meditation to sit with it and see what lesson comes from it. We constantly remind ourselves in moments of darkness that this too shall pass. Without yoga and a different awareness of who I am, I'm not sure I would have thought of things like that. To me yoga means more than the literal translation of "to yolk" or "to connect", but to create a community that enhances our ability to connect and stay connected on a much deeper and understanding level. We all seek deep, powerful and personal connection - and through yoga and meditation we learn how to appropriately achieve it. Over the years yoga has taken on many meanings at different times in my life, patience, self-love, be authentic, give love, be kind, be mindful, non-judgmental, trust, honesty, open-minded, acceptance, non-reactivity, forgiveness, connection and community. Cleveland is small, but the bond that so many of us have because of the yoga offered around is pretty unique. When I found yoga it was strictly physical because that was the initial mindset I went in with. After a few years of home practice, when I took my first class with Parker at Cleveland Yoga at The Hamptons, yoga found me. I've been fortunate to grow as a teacher with this growing community. When I first started practicing, let alone teaching there were a handful of studios around town. Now it seems like there is one on every corner, and what's even cooler is each has their own identity, style and vibe.
Sometimes I feel like my first date with yoga is still happening because I'm continuously learning new things about myself while growing and evolving as a teacher and person each day. I love that there's always opportunity for growth with access to so many wonderful teachers in the area. I always joke in class about how anyone who says yoga is easy probably has never actually tried it. We all find challenges in different components of the practice and those too, vary from day to day and experience to experience. I currently teach at two local studios here in Cleveland, Cleveland Yoga (Westlake) & 3 Sisters (Avon). I feel lucky to be a part of two wonderful studios who each offer different styles of yoga and encourage authenticity within my teaching. I'm grateful for the constant inspiration from everyone I teach with and for the owners of both studios!