Are you interested in yoga but unsure where to begin? If not, that's okay too. I wanted to dedicate this post to share my journey into yoga. My journey of how I got started with yoga, why, and what has kept me on my mat as a practitioner and now 200hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance.
Well... let's start with the year 2015, when I was involved in a car accident. I was headed to graduate class enrolled in school at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology located in Washington, D.C. where I was working to obtain my Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
As many American's know, the nation's capitol is a very busy place to be let alone drive in or through. Our nation's capitol is overpopulated and exists within a 30 mile radius. Within that distance many people experience car accidents on a daily. Statistics from the Department of District Transportation reported a total of 26,459 car accidents just in 2017 alone.
Needless to say, as I was traveling to class that day I was blindsided by a car resulting in me being hit from my passenger side and pushed into a cement highway divider totaling my car. That experience was very traumatizing for me, from the unexpected shock, the driver attempting a hit and run, to the many hours of physical therapy for back pain. While I've had time to process this experience over time, at that time I was struggling to process the experience. I had been in a car accident before, but not to this degree. To the degree of it resulting in almost 8 months of physical therapy, and being told by my PT, "you'll probably experience back pain for the rest of your life." To be 26 years old and told this was disheartening, I mean I've always been a very physically active person. From 8th grade all the way though undergraduate school I can remember playing sports year round. So to now have my activities limited felt like a huge bomb had just been dropped in my life. The end recommendation from my Physical Therapist: Yoga.
Prior to that time, my experience with yoga was very limited, I tried yoga from my living room using youtube.com and found free events in my local area on eventbrite.com and tried them out. Outside of those few live experiences, I had no idea how beneficial yoga was for my health mentally, physically, and spiritually. The lingering physical and psychological effects from the car accident combined with being stressed out mentally and spiritually due to working a full time overnight job and attending graduate school led me to seek yoga out seriously.
The embark towards a healthier lifestyle led me to meet many great people and yoga instructors. In the late Winter/Spring of 2016 I committed to a gym membership at LA Fitness where I attended weekly yoga classes on Sunday's and would later introduce to myself to the instructor, ironically whose name is also Rachel. Rachel's vinyasa yoga classes were informative, empowering, and challenging. I'm not sure if it was because Rachel could be described as a fit black woman in her 30's that was motivating or if it was her empowering and compassionate connection with her students. As a young black woman, as a former athlete, I felt at home -- the challenge mentally and physically was topping to the cake. I had yet to see a black woman teaching yoga, so this was inspiring to see. I've always been in tune with my body physically and loved a
challenge as I am very competitive. With consistency on attending yoga class, I felt a relief of back pain. The positive reinforcement of my back pain being relieved encouraged me to keep attending class. With my consistent attendance, I was able to see progress in my yoga practice. I had arrived at full curiosity in my journey; wanting to seek a deeper understanding, I sought out new experiences, new teachers, new classes, new studios, outdoor yoga, aerial yoga, etc.
Like most learning experiences that we go through as humans, we gain comfortability in learning, we become curious, we seek out challenges to advance. Essentially, we seek out a deeper level of understanding and way of being. My curiosity led me to try classes with many people, ironically the ones that stuck were with instructors of color. I felt included, I felt seen, I felt empowered to be me. In my curiosity at an event I was introduced to a now dear friend of mine, Ramona Hammonds. She invited me to take a class with her at a studio not far from my then home in Pentagon City, CorePower Yoga.
Ironically, during this free week trial I was offered, was enrollment for Yoga Teacher Training. The timing of the training with my exhaustion mentally, physically, and spiritually from working an over night job where I didn't feel fulfilled or passionate about let me to sign up. I signed up with the full intention of learning more, to essentially gain a tool for my personal "life toolbox". A tool that once paid for, would contribute to my self-care and preventative health measures and overall well being for the rest of my life. Yoga has done just that, it has been a tool for me to pull out in every day, in every way. From taking a deep breath when feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or fear to doing rag doll pose when I'm feeling tension in my spine.
Fast forward to 2020, I am now a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a Master's Graduate with over 7+ years of field work counseling experience, an entrepreneur, and advocate for self-care through the use of yoga and holistic practices. I hope you enjoy learning about my experience and are empowered to seek a deeper understanding within yourself and your self-care. Come join me on your mat! I would love to help you discover the endless possibilities on your journey.
Our journey is ever evolving. Fall in love with your journey, not the destination in mind.