Fifteen years ago this month, I had just returned to my marketing job at MCI Telecommunications, after taking four months off to recover from a traumatic car crash. I sustained a dozen broken bones in the crash, and had to learn how to walk again with a broken neck and broken pelvic bone. It was, by far, the most physically, and emotionally, painful four months of my life.
My physical therapist suggested that yoga might help me manage chronic pain, caused by scar tissue around my broken bones. I had heard that there were yoga classes at our gym, so I decided to check it out.
The instructor was a beautiful woman named Joy. My mother, who had passed away the year before, had also been named Joy, so I thought it was a sign that I was on the right path.
Joy was 40 at the time, but she looked 30. She was stunning, and flexible, and fit, and everything about her glowed. I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like her.
Joy taught the exact same hatha yoga sequence at every class, which I found extremely helpful as a beginner. I knew what to expect in her classes, which eased some of my initial anxiety. It also helped me remember how to practice on my own, between classes.
I fell head over heels in love with yoga during that first month of classes, and found myself wanting more. Joy recommended the book Power Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch, and a friend suggested I check out “Inhale with Steve Ross”, on Oprah’s Oxygen Network. I also discovered a fabulous magazine called Yoga Journal, that I read cover to cover, as soon as it arrived each month.
This is how I “got into yoga.” I took one class a week with Joy, practiced with Steve Ross at 6 AM (and sometimes on VHS tape) three or four days a week, subscribed to Yoga Journal, and read Power Yoga, in my free time.
It might sound like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. It was simply a shift in how I spent my free time. And the more I practiced, the less it felt like an obligation, and the more it made me want to adopt a yogic lifestyle.
Back then, we did not have National Yoga Month, but now we do. And because National Yoga Month was created to raise awareness about yoga, I would like to encourage you to consider what you might shift, to make more room in your life for yoga.
No matter how busy we are, we can always find time to practice at least a little yoga each day. The hardest part is making the commitment. Once yoga becomes one of your daily non-negotiables, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
Also, as far as I am concerned, fifteen minutes of yoga each day is better than an hour of yoga, three times a week. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you just do something. Yoga will always meet you, exactly where you are.
Below are some of the resources that have helped me over the years. Give them a try, and let me know what you find most helpful in your yogic journey.
Power Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch
The Yoga Bible
Journey Into Power by Baron Baptiste
Happy Yoga by Steve Ross
Power Yoga (videos) by Bryan Kest
Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith
The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali
An Open Heart by The Dalai Lama
Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Furhman (this is not a yoga book, but it does support a yogic diet)