Believe it or not I started Yoga with a couple of DVDs bought on Amazon. At that time, I just wanted to get some nice easy exercise after a long bed-ridden pregnancy. I got exactly what I wanted, nice gentle lenghtening and strenghtening moves, and kept practicing on and off in front of my TV for years. Needless to say, the spiritual (and most important) part of the practice totally eluded me.
And then this trip to Bali: while cruising in Uluwatu I stumbled upon an old friend of mine and decided to spend a few days with him in the Bukit. He would often tell me about yoga and the importance of the breath and asked me if I wanted to practice with him. I said I was fine just surfing and cruising and just watched him practice while sipping on a cold drink.
But whether you want it or not, Bali is a very spiritual place, and I believe it is for that reason that something clicked. I got back home telling myself I would practice Yoga every day.
I started looking for more videos online and reading about yoga philosophy. I still had no teacher and practiced in front of my giant bedroom mirror to check my form. But at some point I found myself being stuck, not knowing how to get deeper into my physical and spiritual practice.
So I just booked a ticket to Maui, probably my favorite place in the world, to start taking « real » classes. But most times I would just feel a little disappointed because I couldn’t find the yoga teacher Iwas looking for: what I did find though, were yoga leaders who would just instruct students to go from one asana to another without much detailed instructions, adjustements or spiritual insights. I especially remember one of them being very judgmental of her students and I promised myself never to take another class with that person.
So one evening I decided to talk about my frustration to a friend of mine, and she told me: « I think I know someone you might like. I never practiced with her but all my friends speak highly of her and her teaching. But she travels a lot and doesn’t teach on the island all the time. » Of course, I checked right away and she was on the mainland. I went back home and booked another ticket a few months later for one of her Asana Intensives.
The classes included chanting (which at that time I found a little bit weird), asanas, pranayama, meditation, philosophy and poetry. They were physically and mentally challenging: we were often instructed to stay in certain poses for up to 5 minutes – and I’m not talking about nice relaxing stretches – focusing on very precise parts of our body while maintaining the steady flow of the breath. Sometimes I felt like I was being pressured and crushed. My body and my mind were in full resistance mode, so much that at some point I wanted to quit. But I stayed and after a few days I realized all my inner tensions were gone and I was actually breathing right, with the right alignements for me. I felt space in both my body and mind. I looked within and saw peace. For the very first time, after years of practice, I experienced the real benefits of Yoga.
So this is my advice for you: find that Yoga teacher. Find that guide who is going to inspire you and help you take your practice a few steps further. Find that someone who is going to help you look within. Better yet, find that Guru, in the litteral sense of the word (not in the weird creepy way): someone who will bring Light into your areas of darkness.
Om shanti.

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