My mom got into yoga long before it became popular in the States. Back when it was cool to make your own jewelry out of beads made out of rolled up church bulletins or just rock anything with a peace sign on it. Back when Simon & Garfunkel were played on record players, no one knew what an iPhone was, a time when Nixon was president. When I was born in the early 1980’s, she continued with her practice. And when I was in elementary school she became a certified yoga instructor. I remember growing up and knowing that every day, no matter what, my mom would do her “stretching”. By the time I got into high school I had learned that it was best to not talk to Mom in the morning before her yoga practice was completed.
Here is my point: I’ve been around yoga my entire life and it took me until the ripe ole’ age of 29 to realize its benefit and what it not only does to your body, but to your heart/soul/well-being.
About four months ago I started a pretty consistent yoga practice (I also started meditating). What kind of hippy talk is this Mandy?! Just wait… I’ve spent hours downloading videos, reading books, and attempting poses named after animals and other beautiful wildlife. I practice breathing like a lion, stretching my “side body”, and “opening my heart”. Somewhere I read that it takes 21 days to establish a habit, yet after the first few yoga sessions it felt as though there had already been a shift. Not only did I become more flexible, but also I noticed that in my daily life I was calmer, happier and worried a lot less. I felt like I was understanding myself better.
When people think about yoga, they sometimes think it’s just a hippy thing – full of all things peace and love related. And while there may be some truth to that, I’m finding that it’s a lot more. It’s also about confrontation, discomfort, finding equanimity between effort and ease, and being accountable for your own personal growth. And since I’m finding that much of Peace Corps is about personal growth, then this fits right in!
I found a little yoga community here in Tonga, too. A few times a week I get together with a small group of new friends at the local Catholic convent and practice yoga. The view of the water is breathtaking and I get to get my fakamalahisino (exercise) in with some cool people.
I love when you find something that you absolutely love and you want to do it all the time – it makes life so much more juicy – the last time I felt this kind of passion for something was art class in fourth grade. I friggin’ love me some pipe cleaners, people.
The nice women who I practice with have encouraged me to start teaching classes a couple times a week and I am loving it. For awhile I thought that my Midwestern accent was not going to create a very calm atmosphere conducive to holding the downward dog pose for awhile, but they say they enjoy my class. It’s fun helping others while you are helping yourself.