by Kelly Guay
In 1997 my dad had a major heart attack. After a double bypass and weaning him off of the 40 year nicotine addiction he had, it was time to support his journey of physical recovery. At this time, I was studying exercise science at Bridgewater State College (now University) and working in a gym, teaching classes and personal training. Who better than to help my dad, than me? It was suggested that he try yoga. I was as far from yoga as you could get, with my running and kick-boxing and power lifting and anything else aggressive that got my energy out. Sitting still has never been something in which I excelled. But, here I was, wanting to support my dad. So we found a yoga class.
Both of us were extremely uncomfortable and every time we looked at each other, we would laugh. We couldn’t get into many poses. I could do more than he could, but it was all so awkward. He hadn’t been active in years so it was hilarious watching him try. In the end, we left feeling like that was that, just not our thing, but a funny time trying.
Over the years in the fitness industry, the subject of yoga has come up often. I did some pilates and yoga videos here and there just so I could say I tried it. I always thought I needed to get aggression out to relax, as ironic as that sounds. Many people are like me in that respect. As I had babies and got into my 30s and now 40s, I have gotten injuries, taken time off from running, and been to physical therapy a number of times. Yoga always came up. My answer has always been, “yeah I tried it and it’s really not my thing”. As I have trained more clients, I do see the benefits of how it can help them and I had thought about trying to settle myself into giving it another try.
Fast forward to last winter. I swear I was just minding my own business. I really was! The Yoga Spirit Teacher Training course was presented to me as an opportunity. I said I would think about it. I put off thinking about it. Then I thought about it. It’s a big commitment, a year long course. The amazing instructor, and my dear friend, was very persuasive. I agreed to give it a try. I thought, if nothing else, it could give me some new writing material. I started a journal to keep track of the experience.
My thoughts on yoga and what the course would be like were not even close to what I have now learned about the practice. I thought yoga was all about being able to master getting into certain postures and poses, holding it there, and gaining flexibility. That sounded quite boring, to be honest. I quickly learned that the practice of yoga begins with philosophy and history. It encompasses the whole person, body and mind and soul. To understand the practice of yoga is to understand far more than just your physical body. Learning the foundation, the “whys” is what makes it come together. Yoga is not just a trend. It has been woven throughout history in some way or another. These ideas have been relied upon as medicine. These principles have led the way for learning peace and kindness. The foundation of yoga has shown the way of pure gratitude and self-acceptance. Yoga has also helped me recover from injuries and get back to the more “aggressive” activities I enjoy, like running and POUND.
I have yet to finish my course. I have so much work left to do. It has certainly opened my eyes and kept my attention in a way I never thought it could. I didn’t even know there were different types of yoga! Learning yoga is to delve within, to learn to be ok right where you are, in this moment. It is a journey I invite you to try, if you haven’t already. If you are new, give it a chance. It does far more than create a flexible body. For those of you that are gun shy and prefer your high intensity activities I say this: the aggressive and loud personality in me honors and respects the aggressive and loud personality in you. Now, join me and see what it’s all about. Namaste.