The first yoga class I ever took was awful.
It was 2008, and I was living in Wisconsin post-graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was working a desk job writing for a women’s magazine, so I spent a lot of time sitting at a computer. I knew I needed to move.
I joined a gym and tried out every type of fitness class I could get my hands on, just to see what I liked, and what made me feel good. I tried it all… Body Pump, Body Attack, spinning, weight lifting… and then, there was yoga. I had zero expectations. It was just on the list, so I figured I'd try it out.
I was running late, and I walked into the room and the only spot available was right at the front. I couldn’t see anything without turning my head around because the instructor was walking around the class. There wasn’t any time for niceties after I got there — I dove in.
It was HARD! Hard in ways I wasn’t ready to deal with… so many shapes. Staring at everyone around me. I was uneasy because I wondered if the rest of the class was judging me, the slow one who clearly didn't know anything. And coordinate with my breath? FORGETABOUTIT. And then my instructor gave me a physical adjustment in Happy Baby Pose.
Physical adjustments can be so wonderful when you’re in a space of trust with the yoga instructor. They’re meant to help you access a deeper release. Happy Baby is a particularly vulnerable pose where you’re lying on your back, feet in the air, knees bent and wide, grabbing the outsides of your feet and rocking side to side, like a happy baby.
The instructor walked over to me, placed his hands on the bottoms of my feet and pressed down. In any scenario today, with an instructor I trust, this would be perfectly respectable.
But it wasn’t back then. I walked out after class and thought to myself: Never doing that again… and that was that.
Today, as the owner of three yoga studios and counting, people often ask me how I got into yoga, and I laugh when I tell them this story. I go on to explain how I really found yoga. I moved west to a tiny town in the mountains to be closer to my (now) husband, and we worked at a college prep boarding school. I needed friends ASAP.
This one woman on campus — Brittany, who taught dance — was always trying to get groups of women on staff to practice yoga using audio recordings in her classroom after work. And so… ONLY because I needed friends, I agreed to practice yoga again.
Turns out, yoga made me feel amazing! And I discovered that NO ONE was thinking about me during their practice. They could care less what I was doing on my mat. I could just be myself. And I would practice on and off for years afterward… and every time I’d practice, I’d write in my journal: Yoga makes me feel so good! I need to practice more. (And it did help me make friends… Britt and I are still best friends, and both own yoga studios!)
But, it wasn’t until I took a yoga teacher training that I truly dove into the depth of the practice beyond just physical poses, and applied it to all aspects of my life. I didn't have 25 years of experience before the teacher training... quite the contrary, and that was the beauty. I had my life experience prior to the training, had a profound experience in the training, and my life has never been the same. Yoga has stuck with me through all my work and life experience — especially applying what I learned in my non-yogi work with the nonprofit, and my relationships with friends and family. Forget about instructing yoga classes (that is a beautiful byproduct that I happen to enjoy immensely)... what I really learn more every day is how to LIVE yoga, especially in all the dark nooks and crannies of my life I tend to avoid.
If you're curious about the experience or perhaps you've even considered that you might want to take a teacher training, I would love to tell you about what Yoga Hive offers in our 200-hour program and (new for 2020!) our advanced 300-hour training. Our programs are facilitated and shaped around this idea: yoga — and yoga training — is for everyone, regardless of shape, size, age, knowledge-base, religion, background, etc. We believe the practice and the lifestyle should be approachable, it should challenge you, and it should meet you where you're at right now. That's what makes yoga so relevant over time and that's exactly why I guarantee it will change your life.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.