It was the summer of 1995 and I’d been riding my sister’s moped down Geary Street and crashed into a car that had made a quick left hand turn in front of me. I dislocated my right hip, fractured my left wrist, and had a serious whiplash. Although I survived, I started to question whether the world was as safe a place as I’d always assumed it to be.
As I see it today, the accident was a major wake-up call. The universe had conspired to get my attention; slow me down. I was forced to re-evaluate my priorities, life goals, and values. Over the next few years I began a journey to heal myself and to integrate the profound changes that I’d undergone the previous twelve months, as I’d traveled throughout Malaysia, Thailand, and India.
After my accident, and feeling a need to take charge of my own healing, I recalled an experience that I’d had in the backyard of a hotel in India. Every morning a lovely young woman would roll out her yoga mat. Her every ritualistic movement was one of infinite patience. In retrospect, I sense that I was completely mesmerized by her seamless stretches and supple poses. Her whole practice had a sense of ease and fluidity, as if she were moving to the sound of an inner orchestra. During my stay I became her eager student.
For the next several years, I continued to be a self-taught yoga practitioner. Using DVDs that I checked out from the library, I would regularly unroll my yoga mat in my living room and practice. Then in 2002, I met Jill Miller, who had an extensive background in yoga. Jill used humor and insight during yoga class as a means of helping us to build deeply connected relationships with our bodies and minds.
Before studying and practicing yoga, I paid little attention to my body. It was simply something I felt obligated to feed, clothe, and bathe. With Jill’s mentoring, I began to get more in touch with my body’s innate wisdom. She also introduced me to my third yoga teacher, my inner self, “the one who is singing and dancing in our hearts,” she said.
The most fundamental reason I became a yoga teacher is that it allows me to teach in the truest sense of the word, to empower others to greater levels of health by connecting with their own inner teacher. Yoga also allows me to share the wisdom of my heart with my students.
Unlike mind-based education, Hatha yoga is a simple and effective set of poses and postures that nurture the student’s body, mind, and spirit. Yoga revitalizes untapped pockets of energy and develops body awareness at a whole new level. And a body that has enhanced flexibility and physicality exudes self-confidence, with little effort.
I encourage you to give Hatha yoga a try. There is no need to wait for a universal wake up call to dive in.
- Shannon McQuaide has taught yoga for more than a decade. She is launching a Hatha yoga class at Core Fitness and Pilates Studio, 4859 Scotts Valley Drive. For information: www.shannonmcquaideyoga.com or 431-0850.