I grew-up in rural Indiana. No one knew what yoga meant. Well, one of my classmate’s father was a psychologist which was considered cosmopolitan. HE might have known what yoga was but I didn’t. So when I was a freshmen in college I saw it was offered and decided to find out. I had no idea what we would be doing. Acrobatics? Meditation? It turns out those first guesses weren’t that far off.
But the main attraction was the yoga instructor herself. She was around 70 but had more energy than most undergrads. She had long, vibrant red hair and wore jewelry that seemed incredibly bold against her slight frame. And she said funny, insightful things. “Gang, when you do yoga, you’ll be able to eat whatever you want because you will be so in tune with your body that you will always listen to what it needs. It will be natural. Look at me! I eat as much carrot cake as I want and I look like this!” she said playfully strutting in between all of us laying on our backs. I had no idea what she meant then but found her certainty curious and amusing. Now I get it. Yoga does help you get in touch with our body. While it didn’t fully sink in at the moment, it was good to be exposed to that concept.
I’ve discovered that unless something hits me really HARD, I usually need to be exposed to an idea multiple time for it to sync in. I don’t like to admit it, but I can see from the patterns of my life it’s true. I’m starting to accept that by just relaxing during the first exposure to something new. If the dots connect then, great. If not, well I’ve collected a new dot I can keep in my hip pocket for later.
I enjoyed being exposed to these insights and was amused by adults holding poses with animals names for long periods in silence together in a dark in a gymnasium. College was so exotic. I could never imagined such a things growing up across the street from a gigantic cornfield. My parents teased me, “What is this yoga stuff listed in your schedule of classes? What pray tell are you spending our money on?!?” But quietly I bet they were proud of me for trying new things and probably curious what yoga was themselves but would never admit it for some reason. But maybe not. These are the same parents who never traveled outside of Indiana because Indiana has everything they could ever want. When we did go on a vacation, it was a big leap to go to a state park an hour or so away. So maybe yoga did seem far out to them.
What was truly valuable about that yoga class was heaving that teacher as a role model. She was worth her weight in gold – and more! I remember thinking, “When I’m 70, I want to be like HER. Wait, no, I want to be like her NOW.” Just knowing the someone so free-spirited, so confident, so unique existed was eye-opening. To find her embodied as a 70 year old woman in the middle of rural Indiana made it even better. She made a stronger impression on me than I realized at the time. I’m not sure I was even consciously aware how much she inspired me. Inspiration is one of the most precious gifts we can give one another. I am grateful for the gift she gave me and hope I can pass it on to others.