Like most people, I came to yoga not knowing very much about it. I wasn't looking for enlightenment or becoming a pretzel, I was seeking relief from pain. And it was bad. Really, really bad. I developed debilitating sciatica about two years after giving birth to my son. At the time, I didn't have the knowledge or body awareness to understand what was going on, but I became desperate. On pain killers every day for about four years, I had done everything, spending thousands and thousands of dollars trying to get someone else to fix me. In the end, yoga worked. Specifically Bikram Yoga.
I think it was the combination of the heat and stretching that did it. Or maybe it was just changing my body's movement patterns. Perhaps I was just ready to heal. Whatever the reason, I became a huge believer in that style of yoga. I practiced regularly for about four years before I decided to take the plunge and deepen my knowledge in all things Bikram Yoga at the youthful age of 42.
I left my career as a Television News Producer a couple of years after my son was born to stay at home full-time, and really had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life in terms of a job or career. In 2012 (ten years after my son was born), with the support of my loving husband, the timing seemed right to dive deeper into this mysterious world of Bikram Yoga. I was ready to learn because the same practice that healed me was stagnating and starting to cause me a bit of new pain. I wasn't getting the answers at home, so I figured I needed to go to the source.
I went to Teacher Training in Los Angeles and it was an expensive, gruelling, and tortuous nine weeks away from my family. If you are curious, you could read Benjamin Lorr's book "Hell Bent" to get an inside view of what the training is like. He quite accurately sums up my feelings and experience. I was eager to feel a huge shift in my understanding, knowledge and practice. But deep down, even though I didn't want to admit it, I left training feeling severely disappointed.
Shortly after I returned, my belief was beginning to waiver but I was still holding on to some faith. After all, the yoga healed me and countless others. I can't tell you how many stories I heard from other students at training, some with debilitating conditions that were somehow, like me, miraculously cured. The unfortunate thing about the training is that you don't leave having a full understanding of the WHY. Just a lot of talking in platitudes that you are supposed to accept as gospel. I understand that this practice works for many people, but for others it does not. It is precisely this issue I have a problem with. I was not trained well enough to know this.
I was desperate to learn and sought out new teachers when I found Tony Sanchez. He teaches the same lineage of Hatha Yoga but from a completely different approach. He expanded my knowledge of anatomy and alignment, allowed me to break out of the monotony of the 26 postures, and most importantly gave me permission to be curious and be willing to question and learn. It was because of him that I was able to move forward as a student. Unfortunately, my practice was still causing me some pain, and I didn't have a good enough understanding of anatomy to know why.
Still on the path of trying to educate myself, I continued to gain greater body awareness after taking various anatomy courses with Ray Long, Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, but the person who was able to pull it all together for me was Jill Miller and Yoga Tune Up®. I started taking classes and instantly knew that this was exactly what my aging body needed. I took workshops, immersions and eventually the Level 1 Teacher Training where my knowledge of the human body and movement swelled. Not saying I know everything (not by a long shot), but I have so much more confidence now and I have never felt better. I am so grateful to Jill and the entire YTU community.
I understand that anyone in the Bikram community who might happen to read this will want to come after me with pitchforks, but I say to them: this is not a criticism of you or the yoga you so deeply love. This is my experience and I am only speaking my truth.
I have no regrets or feelings of taking the wrong path. I never thought I would even own a studio, but a series of events that were beyond my control led me here (that might be a story for another day). My journey has been filled with many road bumps and detours along the way, but I believe that this was the path I needed to take. Today, I am exactly where I need to be. I'm at a place of compassion, understanding and connectedness. I feel grounded and filled with gratitude.