Do you know that? A first meet-up, sparks fly and you’re sure – this is it!
That’s not how it went with yoga and me.
Love at first sight? Absolutely not. Not even at second sight.
A rocky start
We already had our first “date” when I was still a teenager. My parents’ health insurance offered a yoga class especially for school kids and their typical ailments – wrong posture, poor concentration, growing pains. All costs were covered, so my parents thought “why not?” and signed me up.
There’s something you need to know about me before I start telling you about my first yoga experience: Even as a thirteen-year-old, I was very interested in spirituality and aware that I ponder and worry a lot more than the average teenie. Yep, even back then I had my issues with mental chatter. Fights with my parents, harmless bickering in the schoolyard, in-class tests – annoying for most of my peers, but not really a problem. I, on the other hand, mulled over that stuff endlessly: Was I well enough prepared for that vocab test? What if not? Was that fight my fault? Had I been unfair? Should I go and apologize? Shoulda, woulda, coulda…
At the same time, yoga became more and more popular and I had already read one article or two about it. In different magazines, there were pieces about how it helped with back pain, but also how the meditative aspect, the movement with the breath, brought peace and quiet to the mind.
I knew: I needed that.
So, we’re not talking about a stubborn teenager here who was totally against it and only participated in class because mom and dad insisted. No – I was open and actually excited for it.
The first “date”
The course took place in the rooms of a rescue service, where they usually held first-aid classes. It wasn’t a room with white walls and buddha statues, as one might expect. Everything was very dry and down-to-earth, including the teacher. We moved very slowly, didn’t really work up a sweat. I remember that I felt a pang of disappointment because this had nothing to do with the graceful postures that were shown in the magazines. The course went for eight weeks, and during that time, I wasn’t intrigued. I felt bored, I didn’t feel like all of that had any impact on my mind or my body, so I didn’t continue when the course ended. I still know that I thought it was a pity. More than anything, I would have loved something to control my overthinking, but yoga just didn’t seem to be for me.
Almost 10 years passed until I stepped on a mat again.
A second chance
I was in my semester abroad the US, recovering from a pneumonia and realized that my body was craving movement again, even though I still felt pretty sluggish. When a roommate asked me if I wanted to come to yoga with her, I said yes. I remembered the super slow practice from my previous class, so I thought this would be great after being sick.
Unfortunately, that teacher had a totally different approach. It was exhausting, demanding, sweaty – exactly the opposite of what you need when you’ve just been sick and still not 100% fine. That’s why I felt awful afterwards. I was totally beaten and spent the rest of the day in bed. Do I have to mention that I didn’t go to yoga again during that semester?
Again, several years passed until I gave it another shot.
“Yoga is just not for me”
By now I was living and working in Bonn and went to the gym with some colleagues every week. At some point, we got the idea that we could go to one of the yoga classes.
I began to hope again: Even though my experiences with yoga hadn’t been great so far, I was still convinced that it was just what I needed. I still thought that I got upset way too quickly. So far, I hadn’t liked yoga – but I wanted to like it! So, I went to one of the courses with a colleague of mine.
Was that the day when it clicked? Nope, unfortunately not.
Back then, I didn’t know anything about yoga, but I always thought I would get into some kind of flow state (it is called “yoga flow”, after all!), that I would be able to relax or that I would get some kind of inner peace. None of that happened.
To make it even worse, the teacher had a very weird way of speaking and pronouncing the words. Throughout the class, I had to keep myself from laughing. Again, I couldn’t get into it and left the class thinking that I should accept that yoga just wasn’t for me.
Just like many of us, I finally came to yoga because of a crisis.
Some kind of quarter-life crisis
I was in a phase where I was very unhappy with my job and my private life. I didn’t have a Plan B either, because I didn’t really know anymore what I wanted. As a result, I got lethargic, which didn’t make anything better.
Finally, I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I quit my job without having a new one and went traveling. In that same year, I had become friends with an American girl while I was in Costa Rica, who was now in Lombok, teaching English. She invited me to stay with her, so I planned my trip around that visit.
It was a great time. We drank tequila in Indonesian beach bars and ate fabulous food while listening to live bands, our feet buried in the sand. We discovered the Gili islands, snorkeled with sea turtles and danced in a club by the ocean on Halloween. We got massages, visited temples… and spent time with her roommate, who was a yoga teacher.
Due to an injury, I couldn’t take a class with her, but we talked about the topic a lot. Her charisma did the rest: she was bubbly, cheerful, genuine, the typical “life of the party” personality, but still she emanated an impressive calmness. She seemed to be totally at ease with herself.
I thought: If this is what yoga does, I want it too.
Before I went for my next destination Thailand, she advised me to look for a yoga studio back in Germany, instead of taking classes at the gym, as the approaches were so different. I promised myself to give yoga another chance.
Sparks are flying!
Back in Germany, I still ended up at the gym (another one by now). I still had a contract there and was looking for a new job, so I didn’t want to spend extra money on a yoga studio.
That was the class where the sparks finally flew!
The lights were dimmed, candles were burning, the movements were fluent and felt harmonious to me. It was the right mix of strenuousness and relaxation, of spiritual and down-to-earth. This was it: yoga had me hooked. From then on, Monday evenings were reserved. Shortly after that, I got a job in Frankfurt, where I signed up at a yoga studio. And the rest is history.
Ever since, yoga and I have been inseparable, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
Did the mind chatter leave me alone since then? Absolutely not.
Do I still have a tendency for overthinking? Hell yes.
BUT: Now I have a tool to get me out of my occasional funks. Why did it take me so long? I don’t know. Maybe I never had the right teacher, maybe I wasn’t receptive enough.
What counts, though, is that I didn’t stop trying after the first time.
All the hopes I had put into yoga eventually came true. Sometimes it pays off to listen to that little voice telling you “try again – it might be worth it”.
A few years have passed since I have fallen head over heels in love with yoga. Read about what I’ve learned during these years and how I became a yoga teacher.
What’s your own story with yoga? Share it in the comments!