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The view from the top of King’s Pinnacle at Crowders Mountain State Park.

The view from the top of King’s Pinnacle at Crowders Mountain State Park.

I originally tried yoga at the worst possible time I could have tried it. I was a twenty-two year old hoodlum who never worked out, only ate snacks instead of real meals (unless it was fast food) & never drank water. But one of my managers was a yoga teacher who had the common misconception that because I was skinny, I was in good shape. So she invited me to a hot yoga class, something she didn’t warn me about. My dehydrated, malnourished ass literally felt like I was going to pass out, throw up, die or some combination of the three. Plus, since I was severely anxious & depressed & that mostly manifested in irritation & anger most of the time, I was very uncomfortable just sitting with myself in the quiet moments of class.

Fast forward to twenty-five. I was a little lost girl, searching for her true self & her purpose in the world. I sold most of my material possessions & lived in my car for a month, using minimal living to really focus on myself & the things I wanted to figure out. Getting on a schedule, spending my evenings walking down the beach & reading or writing in a bookstore was my first taste of true peace & I wanted more. A few months after finally moving into an apartment, I met a guy who was so in love with outdoor adventures - hiking, camping, kayaking, etc. - that I was inspired. I had never met someone who was so passionate about the thing they loved most that they wanted to do whatever they could to do that thing & planned months in advance to do that thing. I thought that I’d try it out for myself; I was meeting a lot of people who mentioned they love hiking, so there must be something to it, right?

I took a small solo hike in the National Forest nearby, but it was mostly flat land & dried up trees. Even though it wasn’t the most gorgeous sight, it was another one of those rare times when I felt totally content being alone with myself & that was a major thing. It made me want to do something bigger, so I drove alone for three hours to hike Crowder’s Mountain. I made it to the top of King’s Pinnacle right at sunset & I was tired & my legs were tingling & I was literally out of breath, but I was also out of breath figuratively. That view made all of the work worth it. So I spent the rest of the sunset up there, just staring out over Charlotte & feeling another taste of the peace I was longing for. That night, I was 100% sold on the real American past time: being in the great outdoors.

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I took a few more small adventures, some alone & some with friends over the next few months & it led me to this feeling of pride in my country, probably for the first time. I wanted to make sure that all of the beautiful things I was seeing would be around for future generations, so I decided to go back to school to study Environmental Science with the aim of working for the National Park Service, like my mum has for over 30 years now. But my first few classes had other plans for me. I was still working on General Education requirements & two of them were Intro Psychology & Intro Philosophy; I fell in love with both. The way the human mind works & the theories it creates fascinate me to no end, so I wanted to learn more.

Eastern philosophy interested me most & I had flashbacks to all of the little Buddha, Shiva & other statues in the yoga studio I went to those four years ago. So, I checked around the discount sites & there was a Groupon for a yoga studio very near to my home & work. During my first class there, I definitely got a sweat on, but I also found the thing I’d been craving & thankfully finding more & more of: peace. Not only that, but the teacher read from the Dao De Jing before & after class, the very thing I had just connected with in my studies. It all felt so serendipitous, so meant to be & I was taken over by this wave of happiness. It was then, at the end of that class, that I knew I wanted to teach. I wanted to be able to give others the healthy lifestyle &, much more importantly, the peace that I was finding.

In only five months I was beginning my teacher training & with every new thing I learned about the practice, I fell deeper in love. I was so in love with it & with learning new things about it that I started looking at my next level of training almost immediately after I graduated from my first one. I also started teaching after only about a month at the best first job I could have had, teaching beginners. It allowed me to see all different types of bodies, practices & lifestyles. It also felt extremely rewarding to see students faces light up when they finally felt good in a pose or conquered something they’d been working toward. But most significantly, even to this day, when students come up to me after class to tell me that they feel accepted, they feel peaceful, they feel strong, or my class gave them some kind of visceral reaction that they really needed... it almost brings me to tears every time.

So long story short, I do what I do because I wouldn’t be living my best life if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be doing what I feel I was given this life to do. The other day I was having a conversation with my best friend of over twelve years - the one who’s seen me go through it all & always come out stronger on the other side but not necessarily wiser. I was telling her that for the first time in a long time, I feel like everything is good. While I still have a lot of things to work on, because life is an ever-changing, ever-growing kind of thing, I finally feel like I’ve worked through the worst of it. I feel like I’m 100% content with who I am, what I’m doing with my life & what I’m working toward. Movement, mindfulness & minimalism have given me so much peace that I’m finally okay with being alone... & all I want to do now is share the gifts I’ve been given with others. If you think I may be able to offer you some insight on your yoga or mindfulness journey, head here! And if you want to find outmode about the things I find super groovy, head over to the blog :)

 
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