Hey Yoga Friends, I'm Laura (Moonlight Yoga) & this blog post is about me & my personal yoga journey. Some of you reading this may know me, some may not. But even if you know me you may not know my yoga journey. Maybe some parts you can relate to, maybe not. Either way, you'll learn some more about me, how I stumbled upon yoga & why I continue to stumble along!
Where do I even begin? Let's go way back...
I remember being an active child. I loved playing outside with my brother & twin sister. We would climb trees, go on walks, bike rides, skip, hopscotch, play with that thing that you slid over your ankle & had to jump over as it swung around & counted how many times it went around...does anyone remember what that was called? I was in dance & soccer - but only for about a season. I liked the idea of sports but never stuck with them. As I got older I would run with my mom who continues to inspire me with her commitment to her health. I ran track & cross country, but never for the competition. I never liked competing (& still don't) but I enjoyed the practice & the movement. Stretching was something I did but I was never exceptionally bendy.
My first job was at a local gym. When I wasn’t working behind the desk, I worked out. I lifted weights, ran on the treadmill, hopped on a spin bike & explored all the fun equipment at the gym. I loved working out alone but would get bored quickly or lose motivation. So I started attending the group classes & fell in love with the energy of everyone working together in the same space, regardless of their abilities. It was such a great supportive atmosphere that made me feel like I fit in.
Contrary to what you might think, I did not love my first yoga class.
It was there where I tried my first yoga class but it was not love at first stretch. I felt pretty neutral about it. I got a good stretch but compared to other "fitness" classes, yoga just didn’t interest me. I wanted to sweat! So I stuck to weights & cardio.
Fast forward to my 3rd year at university. I’m on exchange in Australia (yeah, unforgettable as you can see by this sunset!) enjoying school & lots of adventures with some really amazing people.
At the time I would Skype with my sister back at home. I remember her telling me that she got a Wag-Jag coupon (omg does that even still exist?!) for this place called Bikram Yoga. She started going & I recalled my only ever experience with yoga...I thought, meh. But then she told me it was hot, intense & worked your whole body, even your internal organs! I kept wondering how the heck that was possible!!
Now it's summer 2011 & I’m back home in Guelph working my job as part of the landscape maintenance crew at the Guelph Arboretum. My sister is still doing this Bikram thing & I’ve still never gone. One day she asked if I wanted to join her. I said sure, why not, I’ll see what it’s all about. She recommended I drink lots of water in the few hours before class, so I did. Then I zipped over to the studio after work, covered in dirt, grass clippings, & sweat from being out in the sun. She handed me some shorts, a mat, a beach towel & then we headed into the 105F room for 90 minutes. I remember asking her throughout class if it was almost over & she would just look over & shhh me! Later I learned that talking in class, even a whisper was shhh-worthy...oops! Needless to say, the class was not easy.
I remember the teacher saying something like “your thoughts are just distractions” & my mind was blown.
I also remember doing camel pose - the deepest backbend - for the first time & it felt SO GOOD (doesn’t always feel that way now lol). I'll never forget my dirty sweaty footprints on my towel. I learned that I could sweat from unimaginable places, like my knees & elbows! I also did things I never imagined I could do. I felt completely empty after class. I remember the teacher saying that it was supposed to give you energy but I was convinced he was a liar. Then on our drive home I felt different. I felt excited, energized, like I could go back in that hot room & do it all over again!
Since then I was hooked. I started practicing Bikram Yoga almost every day. I felt better than I had ever felt before, eager for so much more! Yoga quickly became a priority in my daily life. I was lucky enough to get a Karma cleaning position where I cleaned the studio in exchange for unlimited yoga - HECK YES! Soon the teachers began to suggest that I consider attending teacher training. At first I was like HELL NO. I hated being the centre of attention, with all eyes on you & actually speaking in front of people. That was my worst nightmare & sometimes still is!! I also had this awful feeling that I wasn’t worthy of teaching because I didn’t have a bendy background or I hadn’t overcome an exceptional injury through yoga. I felt like I didn’t have anything to offer.
But something must have switched because despite all my fears (that are still sometimes present today), I went off to Los Angeles for teacher training in 2013 with my sister! We endured the 9 weeks of Bikram teacher training (that’s another story) together. I am so thankful for that.
I taught Bikram Yoga for 4 years before the studio closed in 2017. That brought sadness, yes, I miss all of the yogis from the studio, but it was also an opportunity. I began branching out, learning & practicing other styles of yoga. I went to Modo, Power Yoga, even room temperature classes! I also began to enjoy the slow gentle practice of Yin yoga! Sometimes I didn’t even do yoga! It took a while for me to get into my groove & I’m still working on it. There are days when I feel super connected & inspired - in teaching & in my own personal practice. There are also days that aren’t like that. I guess I could say that I’m human??
My goal as an instructor is to help you accept you, no matter your ability, age, gender, identity & background. I am committed to cultivating a safe space for you to explore who you are & discover your limitless potential.
Throughout this whole yoga-life journey I continue to learn. I learn so much from the students in class as well as the instructors I meet. I learn more & more that it’s not about the postures. Sure, they’re fun & exciting & I believe that channeling yourself through physical postures gives you more strength than you or I know. But being able to touch your toes or stand on your hands doesn’t make you a better person. I’d rather be kind, loving, authentic, intentional, & strong in all meanings of the word. Yes, there are days where I still feel goofy & awkward in front of people but yoga has taught me to embrace that & given me so much confidence & self-love. It's helped me accept me. It's also where I met my partner!
No matter who you are outside of the yoga room - teacher, doctor, student, unemployed, yoga instructor, ANYONE...yoga reminds us that we are all equal. Everyone has struggles, everyone has wins, everyone has moments of fear, vulnerability, insecurity. But through yoga we realize we are connected, we have something in common, we are one.
Peace, Love & Yoga,
(& if you read this entire post, you may have noticed that some things don't change & my feet are still dirty!)
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Photo Credits (in order of appearance) Go To:
1. Stone + Flint Media Co.
2. My good friend Dave
3. My brother & sister-in-law
4. Stone + Flint Media Co.