I started going to yoga classes when I was a sophomore in college. This was in 1995, so the yoga craze had not yet begun. I didn’t know much about yoga, but liked the idea of it. Back then I was more open to “new age” sorts of things and in my mind, yoga fit that.
My college yoga classes took place in a dance studio at my university. It was my first experience with entering a room and immediately removing my shoes. I recall finding it to be a little strange. The room was long, skinny, and brightly lit. Cushioned gym mats lined the floor from wall to wall. We practiced our yoga on these gym mats; I did not know what a yoga mat was until years later.
My first yoga classes were a semester-long journey at the beginner level. I enjoyed the classes so much that I signed up for the intermediate class the next semester. After that, I began advanced classes. In my college mind, that was the proper progression. It was like taking Yoga 101, followed by Yoga 201, followed by Yoga 301. It did not occur to me that I needed to master one level before moving on to the next. Apparently, it also did not occur to my yoga teacher that she should mention this.
One day after my advanced yoga class, I decided to speak with the teacher about a study abroad program I was hoping to do. To get into the program, we needed a university faculty or staff member to write us a letter of reference. As my yoga teacher was the staff member I had spent the most time with, I decided to ask her.
This decision went all wrong. My yoga teacher began to tell me how terrible I was at yoga. How she had not noticed until that day how bad my technique was and how overall, I was horrible at yoga. I held it together until I was out of the dance studio, then burst into tears. It did not occur to me that it was really the fault of the teacher for not properly guiding me. All I knew was that I had been told I sucked at something I liked and had been working hard at. For my 19-year-old self, this was heartbreaking.
I stopped going to yoga after that. Instead of proving my teacher wrong and working harder, I gave up. My teacher noticed my absence in class. She called me and apologized about how she had mishandled that situation. The phone call did not help. I did not go back to yoga for years.
It was three years before I decided to try yoga again. I was living in a new city and looking for things to do. I saw a flyer for an introduction to yoga seminar. The seminar was taking place near my house, so I decided to check it out. I remember enjoying the experience (and meeting a yoga mat for the first time), but did not pursue classes. I’m not sure why I did not decide to start practicing again. I just didn’t.
It was another couple years until I decided to try yoga again. A co-worker and I decided to try out a local yoga studio. I really enjoyed my experience at the studio and began going to classes sporadically. It wasn’t until my workplace began offering yoga classes after work that I began to take yoga seriously.