I still clearly remember sitting in the first class of my eighteen-month yoga teacher training four years ago. I was dumbfounded to realize that I committed to this new pursuit. The unexpected twists and turns the path of life takes me on are just remarkable.
For the past twenty years I had supported myself as a metalsmith, creating my own original designs. I loved my work and never imagined that I would or could do anything else. And then suddenly everything changed when a part of my body failed me. I began to have constant pain in my arm and eventually my arm simply refused to go on. Those countless hours at my jeweler’s bench, with the worst posture you can imagine, and making endlessly repetitive little movements had eventually damaged my ability to grip anything. On some days I couldn’t even manage to turn the key in the front door!
When you live alone and you are self supportive this type of minor disability might seem like a really major problem. And yet, the transformation that has come about because of this difficult life experience has now convinced me that the old adage, “Problems are just opportunities dressed in work clothes,” is so very true.
Here’s what I mean: A person cannot work as hard (and play as hard) as I always had done without paying a price. Luckily, I was given an early-warning “heads-up” in the form of a minor health problem: an injured arm and some metal toxicity. I’m thankful I did not have to wait until I had developed even more serious health issues before I chose to make some lifestyle changes.
About this time I began my deepening involvement with yoga. My daily practice awakened in me an awareness that it was time to take much better care of Cathy. Slowly, I began to dig my way through my incessant busyness to find my way back deep inside. I rediscovered that quiet place within myself, where I could focus on what really feels important. My priorities clearly began to shift, and as they did, I began to feel more truly open, alive, and accepting than at any other time of my life.
Today, four years after that turning point, I can honestly say that I have never been happier. In fact, as much as I loved making and teaching jewelry, nothing in my life has ever used my natural gifts as thoroughly and as well as teaching yoga does today. Yoga has become my way of remembering how to bloom.
Yoga’s benefits are so diverse. It cultivates strength and flexibility in body, mind, and spirit. It stimulates your cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, and nervous systems. It dramatically reduces the negative effects of stress. Basically, it brings our bodies into a state that is receptive for healing. My body quickly became so happy with these changes!
Have you ever experienced how profound it can be to use slow and deep yogic breathing to bring a calm alertness to your life? The effect on your nervous system is amazing. It has now become second nature for me to switch over to this type of breathing whenever I am entering a situation where I will need all my wits about me. Apparently, I’m not alone. Over and over, I hear testimonials from my students about how their practice is radically affecting the balance in their own lives. Of course, knowing that I have encouraged, in some small way, their attention to these changes (and that they have been effective) gives me a lot of joy. Enthusiasm can be contagious, and I am very enthusiastic about this path! As Stephen Cope put so well in the book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, “After exposure to the practice of yoga there is simply and at times astonishingly, a great deal more of us there. more consciousness, more energy, more awareness, more equanimity, more life in the body, more connection with the mysteries of the soul. “
And so, what began two-and-a-half years ago as my simply offering a once-a-week yoga class for ten participants has today grown into a schedule of seven classes a week with 95 participants. And all of this takes place right here in downtown Pittsboro. I don’t even have to leave Chatham County in order to enjoy this new lifestyle. It really is a dream come true and I am eternally grateful.