By Trish Reyburn
My first yoga class was instructed by the least-skilled yoga teacher I have ever practiced with, but I didn’t know that then.
Before ever attending a yoga class in public, I took a video out of the public library that had probably been made in the 1970s, when yoga had hit its first popular surge in America.
I was 25-years-old and had already been diagnosed with two auto-immune diseases ~ Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.
I was looking for a new way to live.
The instructor on the video was dressed in a leotard and tights with a very slender body; I’m sure she was a vegetarian.
I did that practice every single day, renewing the VHS for months on end.
I guess nobody else was asking for it at the library in the mid-1990s.
I memorized the routine because I did it so many times. The same postures in the same order. A very classic type of yoga class– some things were easy and some were rather difficult.
I LOVED SIVASANA!!
Eventually, I got bored and started looking for a live yoga class in the area. I attended my very first class through the Adult Education program in my city and it took place in the high school gymnasium. I have a clear memory of walking into that vast room with its high ceilings and the green fluorescent lights, making strange snapping noises.
The class was held in one corner of the giant room and eventually a gentleman came to close the dividers to give us our own practice space.
Everything felt alien.
Even though I had been doing a regular practice on the videotape, this was definitely different. I was exposed in front of “other” people. For the six weeks that I attended that session, I never spoke to another member of the class. I was that shut down.
A friend had planned to join me for the series, but she only went to the first class because the instructor had given her a brutal press on her back after my friend had already informed her about a back injury.
I didn’t have a back injury, so I went back.
I remember the teacher bragging at the start of one of our classes that she had taken the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training three times!!
Later, I realized that this probably occurred because they never wanted to let her graduate. After her third time, I imagine they also did not want her back in the program. But, of course, at the time I did not know.
During my first six-week session though, I had a major Yoga Aha Moment.
We were holding a strong standing posture.
The teacher said, “Remember to breathe.”
And in that moment I realized I had been holding my breath!
It was powerful.
I became aware that I had been holding my breath.
And guess what?
I started to breathe again!
It was an amazing moment. I felt my body working in that Warrior Pose and I reconnected to what was happening in that very instance.
That is what that wonderful and terrible teacher gave me.
A moment of awakening. Wow.
I followed her for two more sessions after that initial one. I still didn’t know that she was to be the worst teacher I’d encounter. I stopped going because she taught the same basic class and basic poses over and over, by script, and I got bored.
There has to be more to this yoga.
I went on to explore the many styles and teachings of yoga. Along my yogic journey, I resonated with some of the teachers and didn’t click with others. And yet, I learned something in every class that I attended. I learned:
The magic comes through the yoga
and the practice itself.