I arrived on my yoga mat at the age of 36 pregnant with my 3rd child. I had run the fitness gamut, from cheerleader in high school to aerobics class queen in the 80s. At the time (early 90s) I was the ultimate gym-rat and over-volunteered mom of three children under the age of 6. I ran at 5 am nearly everyday so I could get my exercise in before the kids woke. We lived in Singapore at the time and my husband traveled all the time.I felt like a hamster on wheel that never, ever stopped. It is clear to me now I was longing for a new sense of purpose and a deeper, clearer perspective of myself in this world. All the exercise I had performed in the past was just that -- physical exercise. Nearing 40 and a busy mother, I was craving a spiritual practice that nutured both body and soul. It probably was not coincidental that just prior to my first exposure to yoga, I had a "born-again" experience in my Christian faith. Perhaps it was this renewal of faith that complelled me to seek yoga. I felt a closeness to God during my early morning prayer time that I had never before experienced. I began to feel the need to extend the time I spent on my knees silencing my mind so as to listen to His plan for my life. I did this on my altar-turned yoga mat by practicing with faith, devotion, awareness, discipline, joy and love by offering my body as a living sacrifice to God.
It was hard work yet I knew there had to be more to life than being a wife, mother, advertising executive or freelance journalist. Why had He brought me to this place? It took 3 years of steady practice to discover His plan. I now know my first teacher was a gift from God. A Buddhist of Chinese descent, she had a deep cultural understanding and awareness of how yoga transcends all religion. I was, after all, a devout Christian and protective of my faith. In my first class she asked that we focus on our supreme being, whether it was God, Jesus Christ, Allah, Buddah -- it didn't matter -- simply focus on "your" one true God. At that instant, all the mysticism that veiled my mind about yoga vanished but more important what was revealed was infinitely more vital to me as a Christian. My Christianity could co-exist with my yoga practice. In fact, I was to discover much to my delight, I would eventually be led to witness to others about God's love right on my yoga mat. But just how yoga restored me, instead of draining me like all the other exercise I had done in the past, was an unexpected and completely exhilerating benefit.I began teaching one class a week after a 10-week training instructor's course. I had so much more to learn but I was so happy sharing my love of yoga with others. It was as Stephen Cope describes in his book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, "a deep opening of the heart in this state of bliss and unutterable sense of well being."One thing led to another and now 15 years later, I find myself a certified Iyengar yoga teacher teaching 9 classes a week. It has been a spiritual journey whose destination, had I been aware, probably would have scared me away. Instead, I have this awake mind and heart that has come to the realization that when we surrender to His plan for us, we realize our true Self. It's hard work, this yoga mat turned altar thing, but I love letting go of the life of desire, the world of materialism, the "craving, clinging and grasping" part of life. There is sweet freedom in relinquishing and learning to live life fully present in the moment. This is when I realize my true Self, the one who was meant to devote her passion to teaching others how yoga can restore us and improve the quality of our lives.
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