Since September was National Yoga Month, YogaDirect.com planned a number of events, contests and specials that Yogis could participate in to help spread the word about Yoga to others. One of the special events we planned was an essay contest, and we urged Yogis to submit short essays to us about how Yoga has changed their lives.
Over the course of the month we received many inspirational essays from Yogis all over the US and Canada, and I had the pleasure of reading them all. Some of them brought me to tears, but most of all I was astounded by the many different paths all these Yogis took to get to such a wonderful end - being full of Yoga Spirit!
All of the essays and writers deserve recognition, but I chose the following essay as the winner of a $30.00 Gift Certificate to YogaDirect.com. I chose this particular essay because I believe that sharing her story will help inspire others. Congratulations to K. C. James of Elkridge, Maryland! Here is her essay:
Hello, I am excited to share how yoga has changed my life! In June of 2006, I retired from a position with the Maryland Jockey Club, Inc. after 19 and 1/2 years of employment to achieve my next goal in life, which was to be a personal trainer.
Prior to going with the Jockey Club, I was a certified Aerobic teacher, and worked as a fitness councilor, and service coordinator in a woman's health club. When word was passed through the grape vine that the changes in management were coming, and possibly that the club was going to close, I new that I had to find another job.
Even though my position was wonderful with The MJC, I always new that one day I would return to a career in fitness.
I had received my Group Exercise teaching certification with the YMCA of Howard County MD, and was on my way to my next training and certifications, when I hurt my back.
That whole summer I was in excruciating pain, but beside the physical pain that I was feeling, my hopes of being a personal trainer was fading away. The certification courses were passing me by, due to the fact I could not participate in the classes. I was devastated!
I received a call at the end of August from Amy, the Director of Health and Wellness from the YMCA letting me know that the center was going to start yoga classes. I had never taken a class, and honestly, didn't think that it was for me.
I walked in to my first class that September, and with yoga and some PT, my back healed. Being able to do yoga was so surprising to me, especially because I am legally blind, and can only see light and shadows. I learned by feeling the poses in my body and by having the teachers align my body properly. After a few weeks, I was able to do a beginner class with out any issues!
I had paid one of the teachers to come to my house, and help me with my alignment. This gave me even more confidence, and I made a comment that I would love to be a teacher. After speaking to one of the other teachers, they both encouraged me to pursue my goal!
They both recommended me to the Yoga Center of Columbia, in Columbia MD. This was a little intimidating to me. I explored the requirements, and realized that I may not be able to do this,, because the required reading was not on audio format!
When I spoke to the director of teacher training, he was not sure that I was going to be able to do this. I stated the fact that I have been taking yoga classes for the last year, and have had a prayer/ meditation program in my life for over 20 years, and that I had had a disciplined work out routine.
He was very encouraged that this may be a possibility, but that I would have to meet the owner Kathy Donnelly and take a class with her. I did all that was required of me and was excepted. I found a non profit to record the books for me, and my fitness back ground helped out with the anatomy portion of the program.
Because of the wonderful teachers, and my wonderful group of students who helped me when ever I needed help, I graduated in October of 08 as a certified Hatha Yoga Teacher; RYT at the 200 hour level. Since then, I have started my own business Yoga One On One, LLC., and will open my home studio next Monday, Sept. 14.
Even though my goals of a personal trainer didn't happen, I took a different path, and life has brought me to where I truly was meant to be! Don't ever give up on your dreams, you may just have to open your eyes, ears and your heart a little wider to see, hear and feel the way!
Thank you for this opportunity!
I would also like to share some inspirational quotes from other submitted essays that stood out to me. Read below...
"At one of the classes that I attend, I remember my teacher speaking to my peers and I about how the lure of yoga has uncovered an odd pattern in newcomers to the practice, especially those coming from highly stressful environments: people have an increasingly (and alarmingly) hard time sitting (or standing, for that matter) still. Our North American work ethic has immersed us in a high speed, ever-elusive pursuit for success, one that inexorably leaves us vibrating with the reverberating echoes of the day’s battles. As yoga has begun to be marketed as a sensible salve to our harrowing daily goings-on, people from business backgrounds have found themselves in the unfamiliar environs of a yoga class. The constraining suits replaced by comfortable threads, the faxes and Blackberries replaced by spongy mats and supporting blocks, these people have found themselves destabilized by the lack of white noise, or more importantly, by the presence of undiluted silence. The process of stripping away society’s conditioning has often proved to be too great a feat for some, resulting in the identification of yoga as “too freaky”, “too quiet”, or most laughably, “too easy”. There now exists a movement of millions attempting to relate to life’s most basic principles, and in that same effort to relate comes the realization that we rarely end up where we originally envisioned ourselves…and so the quest begins…to come back to ourselves…and to our selves."
-B. Levinson, Centre Luna Yoga in Montreal, Quebec
"As a 63 year old mother of two adult children and the grandmother of 6, I discovered yoga. I have worked most of my life as a nurse and never had the time or desire to exercise. A friend and I took a beginner's "Gentle Yoga" class through a retired teachers' center. This was the beginning of a passion I NEVER thought I would have about anything physical. Yoga is not only physically challenging but mentally and emotionally therapeutic. Although I am unable to do some intermediate and most advanced poses, I feel at ease with what I can do. That's the beauty of yoga. Everyone's practice is personal and unique."
"Without realizing what was happening, I began to look forward to every class. I started noticing changes about myself and not just physically. I was standing taller, smiling more, replacing the negative chatter in my brain with positive self-affirmations. Now you might say, “Was it the yoga that helped or did you just readjust your mindset?” it is like which came first…the chicken or the egg? Does it really matter? Yes, ultimately I had to be the one to make some major mental adjustments, but yoga was the instrument that opened the doors for me."
"Then one day I walked past a yoga class at the heath club and thought maybe I should try that. Later my office moved across the hall from a yoga studio and I was able to take a class a lunch time. I really did not like it at first and I struggled a bit, but after every class I noticed my back felt better and better. I signed up for the group class and the health club, continued my lunch time yoga and ditched my personal trainer. A year later not only did I find relief from my back pain but I had started to lose weight and become more fit. Eventually I lost 45 going from 195 to 150 pounds and unanticipated benefit. I also noticed that after doing yoga I was not only physically energized but more spiritually aware and open to of life around me, another unanticipated benefit. So yoga radically changed my life not only did a find relief from my back pain and a form of physical exercise that works for me but I discovered a path to being more present to others and the world around me."
-A. Daley, Wholly Yoga
"Being the fitness fanatic that I am, it changed my life by adding a different type of movement but I also experienced a personality change that I wasn’t expecting. A spiritual change if you will.
As time went on, I learned more and completed my certifications and immediately begin teaching. My clientele for this type of class was different from my other classes. The teaching techniques were also different. I started meeting a different type of person than the ones I was used to teaching. "
"Yoga has impacted my life in several ways. I started to attend yoga class twice a week starting last November when I lost my job. I had done yoga occasionally prior to this but I had mostly gone to the gym for weight training and cardio. I have notice since starting yoga that I have am better at coping with the stress of losing my job. Normally I would be much more stressed out without the yoga. The meditative quality and focus has helped me learn to stay calm and centered. I love my yoga class and teacher and have learned so much from her. Not only am I more calm, I have learned to not be in such a rush to get things done. I now know how to slow down when I need to and resume my activities when I need to."
"I started taking yoga/Pilates when I had conceived my third child and didn't know it. I confirmed the joyous news approximately 3 months later amd beomg everything was going great, I decided to continue until I had a need to stop... Well, I took classes 3 days a week up til 2 days before I had my son (and would have been there that day had I not went into labor!) I attribute having Elijah in a drug free homebirth due to the works I had acquired throughout my classes! Since his birth a little over 2 years ago, I have lost 72 pounds! And since Nov. of 2008 I have been a certified Pilates instuctor and practicing my art with others 7 classes per week. I am so very blessed having this in my life and truely love sharing with others all that this "way of life" has to offer!
Connecting the Mind...To the Body...Through the Breath! IT IS THE KEY!
Thanks again to all! This Yoga Month has been quite a special month for us at YogaDirect.com, and I feel that with all of the positive energy we received from our customers and friends, we surely spread our love for Yoga to the world! Namaste!