born this way
One of the most important lessons I learned from yoga? That there are some things about myself that can't be changed-- and that's actually just fine.
One of my earliest yoga experiences was with a local man, who we’ll call Ed (why not) . Ed taught a Saturday morning donation (pay-what-you-can) class outside by the community pool at his condo. I’ve written before about how magical yoga felt to me in those early days– like falling in love, or coming home, or having a curtain pulled back and suddenly seeing the world in such a clear and lovely way.
As far as I was concerned, Ed was the Real Deal. He burned incense, he anointed our wrists with essential oils, he read from Meditations From the Mat, and, on special days, he even played guitar during Savasana. I mean. What more could you ask? (As you can probably tell, I fell a little bit in love with Ed, too, during that first yoga honeymoon phase).
I came to each class feeling a little bit brave (my social anxiety made any outing feel a little brave), but also a little bit like I was Doing Something Really Special. If you have ever been in love with yoga, then you know that feeling. I looked forward to it all week. I didn’t always understand the postures, or the yogic spiritual teachings that Ed thoughtfully shared, but I had a sense that something special was unfolding and I wanted more of it.
The easiest way into yoga for many of us is through the physical postures– the asana. I brought all of my best work ethic to my mat. I purchased a copy of Light on Yoga and tried to do the poses just like Iyengar did (check out the header image for a sample). I pushed through the pain in Pigeon (oops), I held my leg up in front of me until it burned, I fell out of Crow pose over and over and over. It was the only way I knew to feel as though I could progress, or steep myself more in this practice that was transforming me and my life experience.
One day, Ed didn’t show up for class– instead, he sent a substitute teacher. Let’s call her Cassie. Cassie was tall and thin, with flowing hair and a breezy yoga outfit that looked as though she’d stepped off the cover of Yoga Journal magazine (which, let us not forget, largely features thin white women, so that’s not super surprising).
Cassie was also INCREDIBLY mobile. Her poses