My Yoga Journey

Hiking in Granada, Spain. Photo credit to Serena Vandenberg

2016 is quickly coming to an end, and before we realize it 2017 will be here. Probably everyone is thinking, “How did the year go by so quickly?” including me. But I am very happy, even grateful for what I accomplished in 2016.  I started the year dancing--performing on stage for the first time in my life. I spent the rest of the winter working in Hawaii –It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it. Then I spent the summer working as a bicycle trekking guide, exploring Glacier National Park. I also attended my first wedding in the fall… It was my oldest sister’s, so I was actually IN the wedding! Then I wrapped up the busy work season by biking around the Spanish island of Mallorca with my co-workers. After the bike trek I was joined by my best friend and we traveled all over Spain and Portugal; all the while eating tapas and drinking wine as we smiled and laughed over childhood memories. I ended my travels in Sweden where I was able to reconnect with old friends from my graduate school days in South Africa. For the rest of 2016 I spent quality time with my family and loved ones.  How can I complain?

I have big plans for 2017 and I am excited to start. In January I will be doing a one-month intensive yoga teacher training course through Yogaworks in Santa Monica! I have been interested in doing a yoga teacher training course (YTT) for several years now. The longer I let that thought sit, the more I wanted to do it. I had hoped to start last year, but the timing wasn't right. This year I knew that was one of my biggest goals, but it took a lot of time and research to finally decide which program was best for me and for my busy schedule. But I am very happy with my decision to do my yoga teacher training with Yogaworks in Santa Monica. My research found that Yogaworks has a great reputation and very positive reviews in the yoga community. They have been running YTT since 1990; thus they are the big dawg in the game. They are a big business, just like Core Power Yoga, but have less of a corporate feel. They are one of the very few yoga studios that hire full-time yoga teachers with benefits, and they only hire 500-hour certified yoga instructors to teach at their studios. Which means that their standards are quite high.

Everyone takes yoga classes for different reasons and everybody has a different type of yoga they prefer. Some people do yoga for fitness, some to lose weight, some people do it cope with chronic injuries or ongoing illnesses. Some do it as a spiritual practice and others to calm their monkey minds. I have done it for all the reasons above. My reasons for doing yoga, loving yoga, and obsessing over yoga have changed over time. When I first started doing yoga, I preferred Bikram yoga. I loved the heated room where I could sweat like crazy. I loved the fact that it felt like such a great workout after I finished class. I loved how flexible I felt in the heated room, and I loved the measureable progress I made over time. Coming from competitive sports, and playing basketball all my life, if I didn't sweat, I didn't feel like I had worked out. Then I got bored with doing the same sequence of moves over and over again. So I switched to hot power yoga and classes from Core Power Yoga. I loved the loud, motivating music and the fact that you move in class like you were dancing. Also, I loved using weights in class to help tone my body. At the time I felt like unheated yoga was not for me. I was too cool for unheated yoga.

Then I started to take different types of yoga classes. I was amazed by how particular unheated yoga classes made me sweat so much, but without frenetic movement to loud, crazy dance music; my muscles were shaking. I realized, sometimes it’s harder to move slowly. I learned to be more mindful during class, listening and paying more attention to my body.  I learned the importance of alignment and anatomy. I was amazed at how a teacher’s suggestion to move my body ever so slightly, could change the pose so much.   

I have journeyed through many different styles of yoga; Bikram yoga, flow, hot yoga, kundalini, ashtanga, power yoga, pilate yoga, yoga with weights, standup paddle board yoga, acro-yoga, yoga trapeze, vinyasa, hatha, yin, restorative, yoga with live music and yoga with wine. I love them all and found that there is the right time and place for all schools of yoga. Now I am at the point where I want to take my yoga obsession into the next level. I don't know exactly what I mean by “next level” but I do know I want to learn more about human anatomy; how the muscles and bones effect mobility; I want to learn how to teach yoga with intelligent sequencing; how to select the precise wording to be a better teacher; hands-on adjustment; the history and spiritual side of yoga… there is just so much for me to learn about yoga.

From my limited experience with Yogaworks, I can already tell how wonderful they are. In the class I took the teacher was very precise and very focused on alignments, and I loved that. I am eager to learn more, and to try new things, to get out of my comfort zone and to immerse myself in the world of yoga!

I plan to write about the experiences during my one month intensive YTT on this blog site so stay tuned!

Namaste,

RayRay