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trüFORMAT: Brain + Body

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A Twisted Gardener's Path to This Thing Called Yoga

This is part one in a series of ongoing conversations with Sean. Thank you to Sean for inviting us in to learn more.


It’s fair to say that I took to yoga like a fish to water, although that is not to imply that I really wanted to swim. I found yoga, or rather, yoga found me in 2004. I was in my early twenties, working my body physically every day as a gardener. I felt some anxiety about the future; it’s safe to say I was struggling. I couldn’t see how to navigate my twisted spine, my scoliosis. Every day felt like a losing battle with gravity. It is said that a person is as old as their spine, and even as a strapping young lad, I felt very old. 


This is the story of how I came to the practice of yoga. But let’s not even call it yoga; let’s call it finding the techniques for making the most of a human experience. I suppose the best place to start is the beginning, so we will go there. 


I made a decision to attend a class and see what this yoga thing was all about. That class was worlds away from how I practice now, 13 years later, although the benefits of breathing and stretching are largely the same. I went to a Bikram class. It was incredibly hot. I wasn’t sure if I would make it. I did. The sweat eventually washed off.


In the beginning, yoga was simultaneously something that I felt an instinct to do and also something that I really did not want to do. There is resistance inherent in all of our journeys, usually the strongest with those things that help us the most. I felt a whole lot better after that first class; it filled me with what could best be described as the intoxication of feeling more fully alive, more capable, relaxed, and joyful. I was hooked. I bought a DVD called “Power Yoga” by Bryan Kest and in it, I found a teacher. He said all the things my novice self needed to hear:


  • “If you’re feeling something you are doing the pose perfectly.”

  • “It’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it feels.”


Kest stressed the details, the alignment, and the way the breath moves with the body. It was the first “reset” I had found. I kept going to classes and practicing at home as I began to feel younger in my body and calmer in my mind. 


It took some time for me to fully appreciate, enjoy, and integrate the practice into my life, but yoga never failed to feel like a sacred reset for my mind and body. As I moved through life, I developed a knack for finding the right teacher in every new place I called home. This thing called “yoga” can vary as much as us humans do, but after a while I found the discipline of Yinyasa Yoga. A flowing practice of breath and movement, Yinyasa had me focus on details and inspired profound learning.