As a young dancer, I was always intrigued with stretching in class before our dance practice. But more so, the breath. I remember at a very young age enjoying the stretch with breath and feeling that with every breath, I felt at home. My thoughts and worries seemed to be pushed to the back of my mind rather than being at the forefront. I enjoyed every moment of that stretch and breath and felt there must be something here.
Finding Yoga: Going Within and Letting Go
Fast forward to years later after I stopped dancing (tap, ballet, and jazz). I found myself and my body in a complete mess! It was shortly after the birth of my son in 2000. I decided to join a gym but felt bored with weight training (although I know it is very good for the body). Then I saw the class schedule at the gym and decided to take a yoga class. I had bought a few videos to do at home but had never stepped foot in a yoga class. I decided to give it a try.
For some reason, I was very nervous going to my first yoga class. I’m not sure exactly why, but maybe I had a vision of all these completely put-together people, and here I was a complete train wreck. However, during that class I knew in a moment I was home again.
Like many others, I lived in fear—fear of death, fear of not having enough money, fear of the past and the future. Fear constantly played with my mind like a broken record. I was an anxiety-ridden mess!
But every time I stepped foot in a yoga studio, my anxiety would slowly melt away. I began to live in my body again, not outside constantly trying to chase after every emotion or thought that presented itself.
Yoga’s Lessons for Life
Yoga has taught me so much, but mostly how to get in touch with my spirit. It’s taught me how to create the space within myself for all possibilities and to be able to enjoy the process of life rather than run away from it. I have learned to look inside myself for answers and to love myself with all my beauty and flaws.
If you are just going through the motions of life disconnected from spirit, not connecting to your innermost self, then you are not living fully. Through my yoga practice, I learned it is okay to feel but I do not have to engage with every feeling and ride the wave of every anxious thought. I’ve learned to breathe again and use that breath to connect on many deeper levels to spirit. I believe when we feel lost, we may really just be disconnected—disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from others, and disconnected from spirit. I’ve learned to make that connection, and I am forever grateful for this practice of yoga. What can I say? Yoga makes you feel good!
Dolores Andalkar took her first Hatha/Vinyasa yoga teacher training in 2004 and most recently became a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. She is teaches in Bergen County, NJ.