Yoga wasn’t interesting for me until I found a studio and teacher that captured my heart – and transformed my awareness. Luckily, at the age of 21, having dragged myself to a variety of rather ‘boring’ classes on and off in the prior years, I landed at an amazing studio tucked away behind a large market in Boston. This place brought me to a point in my awareness where I did feel an acute separate from my karma – emotions and mentally aggravating ‘stuff’. I practiced here twice a week until I moved back to San Diego, my hometown.
Craving the same experience, I continued to practice at a studio that mirrored some of the elements of my previous one, but came short – lacking the genuine essence and spirit of its predecessor, more cookie-cutter as they say. Four months later, after realizing how much the natural embodiment of trees, rivers, animals, and various aspects of nature reminded me of yoga postures – and understanding the yoga mirrored and taught the divine complexity of inner and outer world – I began my YTT RYT 200 Hour Hatha/Eclectic Styles Ceritfication at Yogawell in San Diego. This was a 6-month program that introduced us to other types of yoga and meditation practices and traditions, like Kundalini, Iyengar, Yoga Therapy and Vipasana Meditation. It was an solid program, with a firm foundation in Raja Yoga, introducing us to all its discplines step-by-step. Founded by Kathy Lee Kepermeier – author of Instructing Hatha Yoga – all our teachings had been passed down directly from India where Kathy learned to our principal teacher, Ann, a beautiful grandmother-type who carried the nurturing essence of a wise old oak. Around this time I started volunteer teaching at a homeless/recovering women’s shelter in Inland San Diego. It took me a year to actually complete all the projects and paper-work, despite finishing classes and workshops within 6 months. However, I believe the length of time I took allowed me to really digest and practice what I learned with an ingrained sense of patience, passion, time and commitment to discover the Truth of what yoga really let me be.
Once my course ended, I had to find a job which aligned – especially after so many years of workings seasonal jobs and banging out internships to deduce what I did and did not want to be doing for the rest of my life. The only really clear thing was yoga, whatever that meant to me at that time. Never having heard of lululemon, I got a job there and was elated to use our weekly allowance allotted for yoga and workout classes to explore every studio within my reach, from the very tip of North County San Diego (Oceanside) to the depths of downtown. Inland, coastal, the far and in-between – I covered almost all the studios in some respect. And, already attempting to cultivate a mediation ritual, as well as interested in other forms of practice, I began exploring various Meet Up groups and general circles or gatherings around kirtan and music, yoga, circle, and anything I felt might offer some growth or in the least, insight. However, due to an old injury from running and cycling, I was struggling physically at work, barely able to stand a severe pain and weakness in my low back and knees. Having already exhausted any Western means of addressing the problem, I started experimenting with fasting and cleansing. At one point, I was eating only greens, and feeling weak with extremely low energy.
Life often offers you the opportunity to change in the most trying and difficult ways. For me, it was my in-attention to my physical suffering that broke the ice. As a musician and then music-mixing junkie, I was always using the vibrations from speakers to soothe my knees and low back, putting my feet against the speakers while going into deep rest. How could I have ever known this would completely alter my injury? Yet, perhaps against odds, one evening I was resting on my back with my feet up against a very large bass speaker at a concert. Suddenly, a VERY intense pulsation of energy came through, bringing me into a sudden deep connected with the feeling in my knees to the point of seeing fear, completely alive, coalesced. In a moment that changed my understanding of my body, the sound released this fear into my legs, which started to charge toward the floor, but got lodged in my low back, against my low verabrae. When I tried to get up, I was in excruciating pain: in one instant, I had an intense back injury. Life decided it was about time for me to wake up to my spiritual essence, no longer allowing me to live a duality.
It was the end of May in 2011, and I complimented summer nicely as a still, unmoving cocktail – lonesome as lonely can be. I was forced to not only resign from my job, but my life entirely. Not only could I no longer not go out and see friends or do anything at all, I couldn’t mix music, read books, or participate in humanity. My back simply screamed, and all I could do was lie on the floor on an ice pack and watch, listen, or contemplate everything. Any friends I might have had never came over the course of the next few months, except for a sweet girlfriend of a friend who didn’t even really know me that well – and my best friend popped by: once. My family helped me in whatever ways they felt comfortable with – taking me to the doctor, probably with food and meals (I honestly don’t remember), and physically helping me with basic needs. On another level, I hardly recall any emotional support. No one rubbed my back, read me a story, sang to me, or took their time spending time with me as I surrendered to my new vantage point – looking up, and looking in. Did anyone ever ask how I was feeling or how I was dealing? I don’t think so. Here I was, face to face to my own reckoning, and pushed forward on the path of self-healing. I disconnected from anything external, and connected with nature and all of nature’s beings to most expanded manner. I imbibed many wonderful teachings that summer, but mostly, I understood that life was constantly happening around me – I didn’t necessarily have to do something to make life happen. Previously, I was engaged and absorbed in my own minuscule reality, but after spending a full day every day witnessing the birds, the clouds, the changing of the sky, the breeze in the trees, and absorbing this Essesnce, it didn’t seem fitting to live the way I had been living. I spent my inside hours in deep Shavasana, taking many soulful leaps and journeys into the inner-world with soundscapes and the collection of tracks I had been hoarding for eons without an excuse to listen, recalibrating my mind. The whole period was a recalibration honestly. It was a reboot, and the first reckoning on my path of awakening.