“I’m 42 years old and in the best shape of my life!” Does anybody remember that cheesy 90s Bowflex commercial? Well today is my birthday, I’m 42 years old, and in many ways I am in the best shape of my life. At times I have been thinner, and I have been heavier, but I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. I believe that my yoga practice has helped bring me to this place.
In honor of International Yoga Day, I am telling my own personal yoga story. I started my yoga journey 20 years ago, when I was in medical school, and very uncomfortable in my own skin. I was struggling toward a career, spending huge amounts of time alone studying, and constantly worrying about whether or not I would make the grade. I decided to join a gym to help give me an outlet for my stress. I discovered a late evening Tuesday class (a class I now teach), and the first thing I realized was that I was sleeping better on Tuesday nights. Since that time my yoga practice has come and gone in waves. I love to exercise, and I like a variety. I have enjoyed barre classes, boot camps, swimming, running, and cycling.
But I’ve always come back to yoga. In 2011, on a whim, I bought a Living Social deal for a yoga studio down the street from my house, and I’ve been deeply involved in yoga ever since. The studio had a nurturing vibe I didn’t even realize I was looking for. And the timing was right. I had been practicing medicine in New Orleans for 10 years. I was feeling the strain of taking care of under resourced patients in our troubled health care system. Some days I would come home from work feeling helpless, as if I simply lacked the tools to promote health. My desire to teach yoga developed from these frustrations. Teaching yoga gave me tools to promote health in my community. And it gave me the balance that I needed to continue to move forward in my medical career.
Today, on International Yoga Day, let’s try an exercise in personal reflection. Ask yourself what you have learned through your practice of yoga. What has the practice of yoga given to you or done for you?
Yoga has taught me acceptance of my body and its limitations. When I enter the studio, I am able to check my ego at the door. It provides me with a fun outlet for pushing physical limits. I have found a community of friends and created a practice space to explore what my body and mind can do. And I have finally opened a family business.
Today is the summer solstice. It’s the longest day of the year. Enjoy it. All day long. Namaste.