Got Your Shit Together? No? Great! Try Yoga

I heard it said recently that you don’t have to have your shit together to go to yoga; instead, you go to yoga to get your shit together. Reminds me of just how scattered my shit was the first time I set foot on a mat.

Scene: I was 26 years old. It was the year 2000, late November to be exact, and in the span of just a couple weeks I had wrapped up managing a losing U.S. congressional campaign, initiated divorce from my first husband, crammed all my stuff and my two orange tabbies into a tiny U-Haul, and moved back home to a little apartment in St. Louis. I was all sorts of things, but “shit together” was not even close to how I’d describe it.

A freakin’ wreck was more like it. Anxious, embarrassed, to the gills in self-loathing. Pour some ethanol on that fire (Cabernet, specifically) and it was u-g-l-y. I was desperately in search of a peace that I couldn’t seem to find on my own.

Rodney Yee

Enter yoga. I’m not sure what made me buy that Rodney Yee VHS tape. (Was it the allure of the ponytail? The serene mountain backdrop on the cover?) I stuck it in my VCR one night and thought why the hell not.

I remember the deep clink of the Tibetan chimes. It was a brand new sound and I dug it. I didn’t dig, however, the fact that I couldn’t touch my toes. How could 26-year-old hamstrings be so ornery?

The feeling of the breath moving in and out was mesmerizing, as was the quiet I experienced when my mind was fixated on being right there, with myself, instead of everywhere, anywhere, else. So I stuck with it, following that one tape over and over again, until I added another. (Patricia Walden, if I recall.) I put that one on repeat, too, until I had them both memorized. Only then did I screw up the guts to try a class in a studio.

I was petrified on the way in — and positively flying on the way out. Within a few years, my passion reached the point that I was ready to learn to teach and bring yoga’s gifts to others who might find themselves needing it as much as I did, and still do.

Fast forward through the seasons where teaching yoga was a side gig… and when it sat relatively back-burner while I had babies… until six years ago when I stepped away from my corporate job and decided to pursue yoga and teaching full time.

Back in 2013, the year I traded power heels for yoga pants.

AND NOW. I marvel at 1) How quickly time flies, and 2) the profound and transformational power of this practice.

Of course, I don’t mean the stand-on-your-head, twist-like-a-pretzel kind of yoga. I mean the kind of yoga that leads us to presence… that is a catalyst for recognizing our (and others’) inherent inner divinity… that compels us to move through the world with a different kind of grace… that offers answers to so many questions we previously found unanswerable.

It’s not about how twisty one’s spine is, or how open the hips, or how strong the upper body. It’s definitely not about looking hot in yoga pants.

It’s about breathing and paying attention — and everything on top of that is a glorious damn bonus.

I tell you all of this because I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about my workshops and retreats (upcoming: March 30 in Oakland; April 13 Austin; April 14 in Dallas; May 3-5 at Kripalu; Sept. 14 in Seattle; Nov. 7-10 at Canyon Ranch), and I want to dispel any myths you might hold that would keep you from joining in. Here are some real questions from the last few weeks:

Q: I’m not very bendy. In fact, I’m probably the UNBENDIEST person on the planet. Can I still come?
I have a little chuckle every time I hear some variation of the statement: “I can’t do yoga; I can’t even touch my toes!” You realize that actually makes you the perfect candidate for a yoga practice, right? You are also qualified if you:

  • Have a body, regardless of age or gender or weight or religion or anything else
  • Would like to feel a little more peace and stillness and expansion in your life
  • Like the feeling of a good, deep breath

Q: I’ve actually never done yoga before. Will I be out of place?
There’s always AT LEAST one person in a workshop who’s a bona fide yoga virgin. And they are my favorites.

Q: I’ve got some wonky stuff with my body (pregnant, recovering from a car accident, have nerve issues, have back issues, have knee issues, etc.). I should not come, right?
If it’s okay with your doc, it’s okay with me. Every single pose can be modified or replaced with something else. Don’t like to stand? No problem, you can sit. Can’t sit on the floor? We’ll find you a chair. Use a chair regularly? We’ll shift the focus. Truly, it’s all figure-out-able.

Q: I’m a dude, and I’m afraid I’ll be the only dude there.
 Not gonna lie, that just might be the case. Sometimes there are 1 or 2 gents, sometimes none, but that shouldn’t stop you from coming. Dudes get stuck just like women do — and they can get unstuck, too. 😉

Q: I really don’t like to talk out loud in groups. You’re gonna make me share, aren’t you?
Yup. But lovingly.

Q: I hear you hug a lot. Is this true?
This is VERY true. But wave me off if it makes you uncomfortable. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings.

Q: You’ve said this is a hybrid yoga/self-discovery workshop. What does that even mean?
It’s said that if you can control the body, you can control the breath… and if you can control the breath, you can control the mind. That’s a lot of what yoga is for me, so much more than simply a series of postures. In my workshops, we spend some of our time feeling ourselves moving in the body, some being quiet and still and reflective while we breathe, and the rest talking and connecting over our shared experiences. It may sound intimidating, but it’s tremendously healing. But you won’t find out for yourself if you’re not willing to take a chance on the experience.

What I want you to know more than anything as you consider attending my (or anyone else’s) workshop, it’s this:


Yoga is the tool we use to begin to make sense of ourselves. Yoga greets us wherever we stand. And takes us farther than we might even imagine. All we’ve got to do is take the first step in faith.

Kripalu sunset. This is what I expect heaven will look like.

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