We all have them – those points in our lives that we consider in hindsight and go ‘wow, my life would have been completely different had I not…’
One from my recent past that comes to mind is the day I walked into my first Ashtanga Yoga Mysore class taught by Jeff and Harmony Lichty.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. To be clear, I had no idea what I was getting into.
What led me to yoga was years of hip pain. Years of experience clouding, constant, hip pain. I had tried everything – chiropractic, massage therapy, active release, acupuncture. All modalities alleviated my discomfort to some degree but the relief was always transient. There had been times when I was having something done to my hips two or three days a week just to keep the discomfort manageable.
When I moved to Calgary in 2007 I had limited health insurance through the university and therefore I knew that any treatment I pursued was going to be paid for mostly out of pocket. And I was tired of spending my time going back and forth to appointments. I had begun to think about what was going to happen to my hips as I got older and figured it was time to try something else.
At the time I had barely dabbled in any kind of yoga. I had followed a couple of DVDs, been to maybe a couple of led classes, but that had been it. I did what everyone does in this day and age when I moved to Calgary – I consulted the Internet and found Yoga Shala Calgary. I read a little bit about Mysore style yoga, looked at the schedule and thought ‘Oh, that will work. Classes are in the morning so I can go to the gym and study in the afternoon.’
So one morning in September 2007 I walked into Yoga Shala Calgary and met Jeff and Harmony. At that point they were teaching in Calgary having returned from another stint in India and both had been authorized by Shri K Pattabhi Jois.
My earliest impression of them was that they did not see my prosthetic as something to overcome, they just saw what was possible. That first day they asked for a show and tell and were enthusiastic and excited about the fact that I had come in. I did not get a whiff of uncertainty or hesitation from either of them, and that is an approach to teaching and learning that I think many would say they try to adopt but few really achieve. And so I started going.
It took some time, as I think it probably does for most, to incorporate my yoga practice into my routine but after a few months I was pretty regular. And I can remember when the hip pain really started to change. Toward the end of 2008 I spent a month in Goa practicing with Jeff and Harmony. Before travelling to Goa I had been in Sri Lanka for two months conducting research as part of my PhD. Prior to that time, a three-month stretch with no treatment on my hips would have left me in agony. But for the first time in years I wasn’t. I practiced close-to-daily on my own in Sri Lanka and then six days a week in Goa and I was hip-pain free.
I still have flair ups from time to time, but they are very seldom and nothing like they used to be. And while the lack of hip pain has been life changing and truly a blessing, yoga has also brought many wonderful experiences and connections to my life.