The very first time I set foot in a yoga studio was in 2004, in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California, USA. My surfer neighbour took me as her plus one to a vinyasa class. The teacher kept on telling us that these moves would help us "pop up", I had no idea what I was supposed to be popping up from.
The move, a repeated Caturaṅga Daṇḍāsana to Vīrabhadrāsana II, is something I haven't mastered. Nor have I attempted to master it. At the end of the class, having observed my breath and my inability to attain stillness, the teacher came up to me and said "I'm happy you came, you really need yoga". My surfer neighbour and I then had açaï bowls. The following four years I would consume a lot of açaï and practice little yoga.
In 2008, now living on the East Coast, I was re-introduced to asana practice by Emily Lodge and Lindsay Gonzalez, two luminous yoginis I met through my work in the wine industry. At that time, it was the physicality that drew me to asana, I had gained weight since moving to the US and wasn't comfortable in my skin. I thought losing the weight and fitting into a standardised mould would make me happy. My practice was irregular, my diet pretty terrible, I spent a lot of time hiding in Bālāsana. Needless to say, the yoga magic didn't operate.
It wasn't until I returned to Paris and stumbled upon an Ashtanga Vinyasa class at Trini Yoga that something clicked inside of me. and I returned to the mat over and over again.
Between 2009 and 2014 my practice would flow in and out of different studios, through different schools of thought, meeting some outstanding teachers. Joti Poirier specifically jumps to mind. During this time I was struggling with breath, with my cluttered mind, with the idea that there was something I wasn't getting.
Just as yoga had become a thread that was loosely woven into the tapestry of my life, so had pain. Excruciating pain in my left arm and shoulder that would come and go and which had been diagnosed in 2005 as a torn ligament from years of waiting tables. Because I thought it was a shoulder injury, I adapted my asanas accordingly. But the intensity of the pain ran parallel to the frequency of my practice. Eventually, during the śavāsana of an ashtanga practice, after a number of deep breaths in Śīrṣāsana, one of my favorites, I felt a disturbing popping motion in my cervical vertebrae. As I traveled home, pain started to build up. The following morning I was in agony. An MRI scan showed that I had two herniated cervical discs, compressing my nerves and causing the pain which had nothing to do with ligaments, but probably quite a bit to do with headstands.
This diagnosis came at the same time that I had booked a 200 hour YTT in Rishikesh, India.
There, during that time in the Himalayas, two things happened. Firstly, my calling to be a yoga guide manifested itself through the feeling of reward I experienced guiding my fellow students. Somehow, it felt natural. Secondly, I learned how to turn the gaze inwards. Once this happened, other wonders snowballed; I understood how it is that breath equals posture; how to feel the union between breath, body and sensation; how to gaze inward and find quiet. Basically, my breath and I became buddies.
It took me three more years to begin guiding practices professionally. Apparently it was my path to get lost a few times before recognising the way. For reasons too boring to explore here, I held onto my former career path for too long. It was only when I realised that I have nothing to prove to anyone that I followed my instinct. A few twists and turns took me to a place which I can only call a serendipitous manifestation of destiny.
My truth today is that nothing brings me more fulfilment than the study, practice and sharing of yoga. It is, from my experience and observation, the most efficient set of tools to harness self-love and inner peace.
So that is where I stand today, as an eternal student of this fascinating, both ancient and incredibly relevant, field of knowledge, through which I hope to help improve many lives over the years to come.
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