This is written by guest blogger/yogini Kati Marshall. Kati and I are Logan Square-Steppenwolf Apprentice sisters for life.
It would surprise anyone who talks to me for longer than thirty seconds or reads my blog that I used to be really into yoga. I say that only because I drink like a fish and have the emotional management skills of a thirteen year old. I also have the flexibility of a geriatric athlete, you know how you can tell at one point they were in shape but now it’s just a little sad seeing them attempting to relive the glory days at the dining room table.
My favorite teacher and mentor, Sean, introduced yoga into our movement classes for warm-ups my sophomore year. He is certified to teach two different types of yoga that I won’t insult by attempting to guess the names. Again, I am useless. He also can speak Sanskrit. He’s like a badass theatre yoda dude. Since he’s super muscular and tough looking, we were skeptical. Wasn’t yoga only for hot girls on beaches and flimsy men in linen pants who only ate berries? It was hard to picture the guy who slings a broad sword around with one hand deep breathing in the woods for a month during his certification.
Turns out, yoga is for every type of person and there’s a practice out there that suits just about anyone. I was mad because as a vegetarian, feminist, liberal loudmouth the last thing I needed was to add yoga enthusiast to the list of reasons my deeply southern family scoffs at me. With minor grumbling and a little bit of eye rolling, yoga was became just another theatrical tool to us like viewpoints.
Through him a whole major was introduced to the benefits both emotionally and physically of yoga. For a group of kids who live on minimal calories, caffeine, nicotine, liquor, and little sleep the change was noticeable across the board. Suddenly a group of kids who spent most of their free time watching YouTube videos and taking shots were showing up to extracurricular classes at 8 a.m and eating salads midday instead of a handful of chips. We were better rested and physically stronger than we’d been since high school. Sean let anybody join in on the warm-ups even if you weren’t in the classes. He made it super available and because he taught the popular movement classes and stage combat it was a “cool” thing to do. Everybody wanted to be involved in his yoga craze. For me I was just lucky that it was a requirement in classes and I became his T.A. I have commitment issues with everything, so having to do yoga five times a week was teaching me discipline I desperately lacked.
Once I graduated I went back to my slothful ways. I still drink too much, I write a blog about silly things, and I can quote most of Parks and Recreation. Despite that, about once a month I bust out my yoga mat. I think one of the most important lessons I walked away with from this experience was to shake pre-conceived notions of what yoga was and what practitioners “looked like.” For every stereotype I know about yoga I know a smoker who plays Xbox after class to counter it. We were lucky to have a teacher that taught us through this practice to appreciate our journey, take it at your own pace, and never let someone else define what it should look like. For that I am entirely grateful as I apply it to every facet of my life now. It has made me a much happier person. It is times when I let those lessons slip away that I find myself most in emotional crisis. Well that and whenever I attempt to bake anything- it just leads to tears and wine.
So no, I am never going to be a yoga hoss, but despite that I can dig it and it was a huge part of my life for the better part of two years. The flip side is now when I do find myself in a yoga class it’s sort of a lot like:
But hey, we all have our own paths, mine is just gravel.