As a child I did yoga because my aunt did yoga with Jane Fonda and Ali McGraw. I was drawn to their headbands and body suits; it felt good to breathe. Having my own yoga mat, something colorful and tactile, created my own space and world.
In my teens I was on a continuous search for freedom. Yoga always seemed to form the foundation of my search, and slowly became a way of life. Along the way, there were certainly some challenging times. I would forget the peace and happiness that a solid foundation provides, and at times the intense scrutiny from others that yoga is a simple cult following. But, I identified with a following; a life of Yoga, peace and simpleness. Finding a balance between the busy world, and my passion of yoga and music was a continuous struggle, yet very important. Traveling, music, and yoga were things I strived to connect with.
Like many before me, my 20’s were comprised of mainly adventure. I loved to identify with the quote “Not all who wander are lost,” and utilized my yoga practice to provide the base for my wanderlust lifestyle. This was at a time before the cell phone, when I would send postcards home to let my family know I was still alive. Yoga on the beach, in a desert or on a dormitory rooftop all had purpose in a way that can be explained as vivid. It felt like a few extra lifetimes were packed into my 20’s.
At some point along the way, I was fortunate enough to obtain scholarships for both my undergrad work in environmental education and my graduate work in outdoor recreation. I lived in beautiful places surrounded by scholastic mentors along the west coast of North America. These mentors gave me the educational freedom to travel the open road whenever possible. I was blessed to work at summer camps too where I made wonderful friends with similar interests. I clearly remember telling my husband when we met at camp that I would never own more possessions than would fit in my vehicle. Then my 30’s hit.
My whole world shifted in my 30’s. In the blink of an eye, everything went from “me” to “we”. I gave birth to two beautiful babies and had the pleasure of connecting with them while still in my belly through pre-natal yoga. There’s something beautiful about a room full of pregnant women sitting in a circle doing yoga together. After having kids I did yoga to try and reconnect with my body. I found pregnancy challenging because I was no longer the master of my body. I was told once at an Outward Bound Women’s Leadership Training that it’s not uncommon for us strong willed independent educator types to have a difficult time letting go during pregnancy and childbirth because we’re not fully in control of the situation. I could relate to that. And then afterwards my ribs and hips felt different, and clothes that once fit perfectly now seemed like they belonged to another.
I desperately needed an outlet to call my own again, something that was just for me. I turned back to education as a catalyst during this time. I started fitness course trainings and decided it was finally time for the next step in becoming a yoga teacher. Up until this point I was a wandering student of yoga, eagerly sponging as much as possible from other instructors. The Red Door Yoga School changed my position in the yoga universe, and fulfilled a hole inside me I didn’t realize had been growing deeper for a while. Progressing along this path was scary and exciting, but I instantly realized the next chapter of my life was about to begin. As I began to instruct and help others, I began to fully realize how others had done the same for me along the way. People wanted to share with me their pain, their time and invest in quality time together doing yoga. It was a beautiful feeling.
Now here I am on the tipping point of 40 years old. I do yoga for more reasons than I could possibly list. I do yoga to be a good mentor to my children. I do yoga as part of my career as a Fitness Coordinator at the Kamloops YMCA working with the patrons of the community. And perhaps most important I do yoga to keep me sane in such a fast world, where being supermom and superwife are the expected norm. I do yoga to reflect with my inner self for leading me to this magical place in life where I’m at now. I do yoga to find my centre with surrounding environment. I’ve never given up that seasonal mentality and I’m not sure I actually can.
It’s nice to have an old friend like yoga that sticks by my side through all the change each year brings, all the uncertainty that sneaks up, all the drama kids bring to life, and keeps me sane when the iphone calendar doesn’t show a free day for weeks ahead. I try to keep perspective when an 84 year old woman came to my yoga class this past week and approached me after to tell me how much she enjoyed learning yoga and how she wished yoga was part of her life in early years, but she was busy pushing hay on the farm. It is a chance to realize once more how lucky I have been to have this life.
I’m thinking my 40’s will be a lot about finding inspiration from the people around me. I was truly humbled by her comment. She certainly brought a tear to my eye and gratitude to my heart. She made me realize that like many other things in life, yoga is about a natural progression, a cyclical journey that can be intimately gratifying. I’m thankful for each day, for all the love that surrounds me within my family and friends far and wide, and for always having the freedom of a yoga mat. I can only imagine with a smile what the coming decades have in store.
Author: Deb Twemlow