Yoga literally changed my life. It changed my body, my mind, even my career. Ask me when I practiced last. It’s probably been more than a year (I’m not proud). Nonetheless, benefits of my yoga practice have remained with me. It’s a mindset—a belief that my body is a temple, and that I should strive daily to make it feel the best and the strongest it can feel. When my head is spinning and life is crazy, I think back to a time when I was in savasana pose at the end of a great class and remember the peace that washed over me, and instantly I feel serene.
I was first introduced to the idea of taking a yoga class when I started the process of earning my MBA. The first class I had was management, and the teacher asked me how I planned to work for a biopharmaceutical company, raise my two beautiful children, and manage the vigorous schedule of the MBA practicum. I asked her what she would suggest, and she immediately replied, “Add something else to your schedule: yoga!”
So in 2003, I went to my first yoga class. As someone with a Type A personality—someone who was a running, spinning, stepping kind of gymgoer—I can truly say I hated it. I actually counted the minutes until class was over. A few months later, I tried Bikram yoga—more my style. I enjoyed the sweat pouring off me and the discipline, but the classes were 90 minutes, and between that and showering, I just couldn’t make it to work on time.
Months after that, I joined a gym that offered multiple kettlebell classes—very much my style. One day when I walked into the gym, I was told: “The class has been changed. It isn’t kettlebell, it’s hot vinyasa yoga.” I looked at the sweet yoga instructor and said, “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, but I need to sweat. I’m just going to go for a run.” I was worried that I may have offended her, so the next day, just to show her I’m not an awful “running snob,” I walked into her class and said to the illustrious instructor, Kat Fowler: “Sorry I couldn’t take the class yesterday, but I’m looking forward to trying it today.” That was a lie. I wasn’t sorry and certainly wasn’t looking forward to it; I was doing it out of some odd hang-up about being afraid of people not liking me. The funny thing is the instructor looked at me and just smiled; apparently my rudeness had not even entered her mind space (score one for yoga!).
And so there I was taking the class, expecting NOTHING. However, by the end of it, I was hooked! This was MY yoga; I had found the one for me. I was sweating, engaging muscles, and at the end, I was doing brief meditations … ahhhhhhh savasana. That first class began my journey to attaining a healthy body, mind and spirit. It led me to becoming publisher of Natural Awakenings Long Island, a practitioner of transcendental meditation, and constant self-discovery.
So, then why the long hiatus? I think it’s partly that life has gotten in the way, and also that yoga studios evolve to meet the masses, and my preferred style is not everyone’s. Recently, I’ve been yoga-studio hopping in search of the perfect fit. I can honestly say I love at least one class offered at each of my advertisers’studios. But I have also been envisioning creating my own space—one that fits my need to sweat out toxins, stretch, strengthen my muscles and mind, and still be out the door in 60 minutes.
For now, I will read this issue—our annual yoga edition—and continue to journey back to the time when I was my healthiest in mind and body. I hope you will join me.
Kelly Martinsen, Publisher