Written by Val Boyko
People come to yoga for many reasons. In my experience, some people are wanting to be more flexible and strong in their bodies, while others are looking to calm their minds and find an inner connection with themselves. Yoga practice brings together mind, body, and spirit and allows each individual to grow, heal, and strengthen in their own way.
My story about how I came to yoga is a bit different, and I want to share it with you…
When I began my training to become a coach in 2002, we did a lot of self exploration about our strengths, values, and needs, and what makes each of us unique. I also had a mentor coach to support me in my skill building and growth. Its a time for getting real and personal transformation!
One day we did a class on Integrity. We looked at what it meant to us and how we could bring that to our coaching. As I sat back in the chair with my headphones on, I reached for a cigarette and lit up.
I felt such a wave of guilt and disappointment in myself for being a smoker.
How could I coach others to be their best while I was feeling so uncomfortable about being a smoker. I realized I was out of integrity.
And I was also scared about giving up my habit. Cigarettes had been a friend and a support for me for so many years. Could I really go it alone? What if I failed miserably (again) and couldn’t give them up? Wasn’t it better to be healthy in other parts of my life to balance out the toxicity of smoking? I was trying to do a deal with myself and it wasn’t working. That icky feeling in my gut was still there.
I was out of integrity and I had to do something if I wanted to face myself and my potential clients. So I told my mentor coach and set a date – March 27, 2002. We put together a coaching plan with the steps that I would take. Each step was something that I felt I could do. … and I did.
Part of my smoke-free plan was to start doing yoga. My mentor said it would calm my mind so that I didn’t get as agitated during the change of habit and the physical withdrawal. I hadn’t ever considered yoga, but I went along to a yoga studio near me and I found that it wasn’t as weird or woo woo as I had anticipated. The people were very friendly and made me feel welcome.
I discovered two things that day that would change my life … and my life span!
The first thing I discovered was that my body enjoyed being stretched. The poses felt a bit awkward, but there was a definite opening and flexing that felt good. The second thing I discovered was how I loved to breathe! Smoking cigarettes had been a way, not only to get a nicotine fix, but also to let me breath fully. Smoking relaxed me. Each big inhale and exhale released the tension. I felt immediately calm as I took a big draw in and then exhaled out.
It was pretty amazing to me that in yoga I could feel the same calming effects without poisoning myself! Yoga became a part of my life and cigarettes became a part of my past.
Now I teach yoga to people at all stages of life and share my love of breathing, stretching, focusing, accepting and letting go.
There is no judgment in yoga, just acceptance of where you are and being your best to live life fully…. and breathe fully.
If you have experienced something other than this, then please look for another teacher!