My first experience with yoga was not exactly enlightening. As a young student studying abroad, a friend convinced me to attend a yoga class in London’s Earl’s Court. I was not impressed. The studio was cramped, dirty and hot. The teacher was using words I had never heard, and had such a thick accent I could barely understand his English. And it was HARD. While the yogis in attendance were finding bliss and enlightenment, my mind wandered. I was thinking about a drink down at the pub.
It was years later, in my late twenties, that impressions of that night in a small London studio began to creep into my consciousness. Somehow I remembered liking yoga. I bought a yoga mat and some yoga tapes (yes, for my VCR) and began an earnest, if sporadic, yoga practice.
Over time, I found too many excuses not to roll out the mat. When I found myself practicing, I often could not sit still in savasana, or relaxation, as my mind was racing. My practice dwindled.
After spending almost 10 years in the real estate business and owning two pubs, I realized that my stress level had elevated past healthy norms. Like many Americans, my first inclination was to take the pharmaceutical route and try to manage stress with anti-anxiety medication. But it wasn’t enough. I was still stressed, and for no apparent reason, unhappy.
A friend asked me if I still practiced yoga. My mind conjured images of a mat covered in cobwebs somewhere in the depths of my attic. I realized I had not even thought of yoga in years. I bought a yoga mat and a Shiva Rea DVD (no more tapes!). I found a yoga class nearby and soon found my way back to the mat.
Over a period of a few weeks, everything changed for me. I found myself attending classes four or five times a week. I was relaxed, happier and was even losing weight. I felt lighter, physically and mentally. It was, in a word, transformational. That was just three years ago. I dove into my yoga practice, becoming a certified yoga teacher, and a devoted yoga student, most recently opening Dancing Dogs Yoga March 1 of this year.
All teachers at Dancing Dogs operate with the understanding that we are only given one body and one earth, and strive to balance earth, mind and body by honoring ourselves and our planet. It has been an incredible journey to date and I am amazed at the number of lives I see changing daily because of yoga. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Through yoga, I found the courage and determination to lose weight and change my life. I can now accept myself, which helps me accept others, and, I am simply happy.
I plan to use this column to address common questions and topics on yoga so that I may share with this beautiful community the gift that has been given to me. Don’t let yoga remain the unknown. Ask away, and you shall receive.
Shelley Lowther owns Dancing Dogs Yoga 1600 Burnside St., Ste 106 in Beaufort. She can be reached at 843•263•5864, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.dancingdogsyoga.com