Friday, September 23, 2011

My Yoga Story

My love affair with yoga began while I was in Macedonia as a Peace Corps volunteer. I had taken a few classes in Fort Worth before I left but really found my groove in Macedonia. This can probably be attributed to the fact that I had time. Nothing but free time. I began with the yoga DVD I had packed with me, then moved on to trading DVDs with other volunteers to learn new things. As the DVDs became routine I started researching online. I spent hours upon hours on Yoga Journal's website reading through their pose descriptions. I would read about a pose then practice in my living room. Having friends that enjoyed yoga too allowed it to become both a form of exercise and an entertainment for us (many Friday nights spent laughing hysterically as we tried to pull off crazy poses like side crow and scorpion). Some light yoga felt great after a long run or fast paced, intense yoga was awesome strength training in a country devoid of free weights. 

As I was falling more and more in love with yoga, my coworkers and I were trying to decide on the new schedule of classes/events/workshops to have at our "youth club" (basically the same idea as a Boys and Girls Club). The long and short of it is that a conversation about what we were all interested in, what would benefit our teenage clients and what would draw people in led to the decision that I, the out of place blonde American in a sea of tall, beautiful, dark haired Eastern Europeans, would teach a yoga class for teenage girls. Was I nervous? Very. Did it turn out to be the most awesome, enjoyable, rewarding experience I had in Macedonia? Yes. Exercise was a new concept in Macedonia and I was very upfront about the fact that I had completely taught myself and was not at all an expert so I didn't feel too bad about teaching the class. The girls and I had so much fun learning together, talking about trying to be healthy in the Macedonian society and sharing our thoughts as we tried to love our bodies. Every week after class I would find myself daydreaming about getting trained for real when I got back to the US. I thought a lot about if it was an isolated event that I was connecting with my students and enjoying every second of it. 

Fast forward 2 and a half years to newlywed Caitlin who has continued personal yoga practice, running half marathons and many different forms of exercise over the years. All this time I had yoga teacher training on the back burner of my mind. As life started to calm down after our wedding I couldn't get the thought out of my head. Kevin, always Mister Supportive and my best cheerleader, encouraged me to go to the first training, scope it out and then make an informed decision about if I wanted to pursue yoga teacher training. I went, I learned, I loved, I decided. I love helping people realize that yoga is not some crazy religion, yoga is not some sissy "workout" for athletes to scoff at and not all yoga is about chanting and omming and meditating. Yoga is a very versatile form of exercise with amazing benefits, both physical and mental. Yoga will work out muscles you didn't even know you had and doctors, scientists (I don't know, "They") have proven over and over that all the new ways the body moves in yoga help with anxiety, depression and a whole slew of other mental/emotional states. A power flow yoga class will leave you drenched in sweat, heart pounding and cursing the dozens of squats, lunges and push ups. A gentle flow class will make you feel more relaxed and de-stressed then the best pill out there*. Do some people get really into the ancient traditions of yoga and the spiritual side of it? Yes. Do we have to to gain all the health benefits? No. 

Moral of the story: Yes, yoga seems trendy, but it really doesn't require us to become Buddhist vegans or something crazy like that (life without cheese?!). I just gave all the reasons I love it, have you tried it? 

*Just to be clear, I'm not saying the "best pills out there" are not needed in some cases. Some bodies need the pills. Don't mistake me for a pill expert. You get the point.


  1. Holy shmoly, scorpion pose looks like a neck fracture waiting to happen! I can see why that was hilarious! Before I had Haven, I went to "gentle yoga" at our gym. Now, our gym is mostly old folks. Old, typically very right wing, folks. Not your typical yoga clientele? But the classes were full, and the teacher Katy was a wonderful woman who often traded yoga terms for "normal words" and it was a slow, breathing, stretching hour. People, including me, loved it! Never have I, before or after, been able to absolutely clear my mind like I can during the relaxation/meditation at the end of her yoga class. I need to go back.

  2. I never knew your Yoga Story!!! It makes me love that you love it so much more. Thanks for sharing Cait.

  3. Thanks Courtney! I'm surprised we've never gotten around to talking about that :)