Read YJ readers' responses:
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first thing I did to step on to a healthier path was to connect with a yoga studio and began practicing two to three times a week. That was 3 1/2 years ago, I still practice regularly, knowing the peace and the fantastic feeling that I get from even a short practice.
While I was attending a workshop on prayer, a yoga teacher talked about breathing. I was sooooooo impressed and inspired by her that I started attending her yoga classes every Friday morning. She has been my teacher now for the past 5 years during the winter months in Naples (Florida). I bless her and I am very grateful to have met her.
A number of events and people have influenced who I am today. There are a few "highlights" I can point to that surely have made a big impact. But, I'm coming to believe that the more subtle—and perhaps mundane—events are the things that truly shape me.
The birth of my 2 children after 6 years of infertility and the lost of my eldest sister in a plane crash.
Definitely yes, I meet a wonderful person who actually teaches yoga, after I got to know her I felt so identified with her philosophy about the way she sees/feels life that I decided to give it a try and enrolled in a local yoga studio. I was hooked that day, there's nothing like been able to appreciate the fullness of life.
If it was not for the first teacher that inspired me to learn then I would have never progressed. Such with yoga . Some one inspired me to try and thats what it took . Its strange how I do so much and others who see and talk with me,no matter what I say as encouragement, will not start to even try, no matter what I say, ie. my wife. Yes it takes a certain type of personality to want to know and try so yes somebody lit the flame its was I that added the fuel to the fire.
I have always been an active person starting as a child with years of dancing lessons. I took every class offered including baton twirling. Then as a Mom of young children I jogged as well as played tennis and did a lot of step aerobics. However, I had wanted to try yoga for at least twenty years and finally had the opportunity two years ago. One of my neighbors asked if I would like to take a beginners class with her. I was hoping it would help me with the symptoms of menopause. And it has helped. I am a very avid jogger and like to work out with weights in the gym so thought yoga would be a perfect new skill to learn. Exercise has been the biggest help to me during the menopause years. Recently, I have started reading about the history of yoga and meditation. I think meditation will also help me. There is so much to learn about the practice of yoga!!!
I had been studying martial arts for about 5 years when I met a gentleman who was a grand master who had lost his legs in Korea. As a visually impaired practitioner, I could relate to his challenges. I now facilitate a weekly class called Adaptive Martial Arts. People are welcome to participate regardless of their challenges. We use many different styles of martial arts, yoga and pilates to help people to grow and overcome their challenges. I am so proud of this program. I would love the opportunity to share our story because I truly believe that many people could benefit from it.
I was inspired by major open knee surgery at the age of 15. Not to mention that my heart yearned for a personal spiritual practice that was separated from the politics and deception that I found in the religions that surrounded me at the time. Yoga was gentle, peaceful, and fed my soul. Since then I've been doing yoga for going on 5 years and I'm studying to be a Yoga Instructor and I will be graduating from Massage Therapy school in 5 weeks. So Yoga has really opened my mind and my heart to a whole new world that I'm blessed to experience and live. Namaste.
After a one night stand in 1982 a really nice guy, Steve, loaned me a book, "Be Here Now" by Ram Das, I still have the book and Maharishi has been guiding my life ever since.
Mukunda Stiles has been a major influence for me. When I just began my journey I wanted to learn the dynamics of yoga. I came across Structural Yoga Therapy by Stiles. For a very long time that book became my bible. It was not only giving me the dynamics of yoga but was a text that I could refer to at any time with any question. Since then I have had the opportunity to do work with Mukunda and now refer to him on my spiritual path. He is an amazing person. I feel blessed and grateful that our paths have crossed.
I've had a number of role models and inspirations in my life, but the single most influential decision I've made is to practice yoga. For that, I have Seane Corn to thank - it was her at-home videos that got me interested and challenged me enough to want to learn more, and now I attend classes and practice regularly, and am considering in time becoming a teacher myself. Although I've advanced far beyond her videos by this time, I'm still grateful for her enthusiasm and clear instruction. It has had more effect on my life than I can begin to explain!
I was in the military during the Viet Nam war, and the video of Buddhist monks setting fire to themselves in protest of the war woke me up.
Madonna! Yoga is many things, but it's geeky image would have kept me from experiencing any of them. I credit Madonna for single handedly converting the image of yoga to something we could give a change. There can be no enlightenment if you can't get people through the door first.
For me it has been a journey of many experiences that have lead me to the Yoga path.A very stressful job lead me to do yoga to reduce stress, then participating in the Avon 3 Day for breast cancer gave me an active roll in Karma Yoga, then losing my best friend to breast cancer cemented my path.Now I am involved in several paths of Karma Yoga along with being a teacher at a Navy Base near by, but the ability to help others and the feeling of awe that I am filled with when someone comes up after class and says "thank you, I really needed that"is all I need to keep me on this path.
No one person or event has inspired my life/path. It is the combined effect of all I've been in contact with, positive and negative, that have shaped me.
I often observe incredibly strong people, whom maybe have beaten the odds or lived through the hardest of times and come thru stronger. In those people I find inspiration to follow the path I know as right for me.
My first yoga teacher carried so whole heartedly the message the yoga was non-competitive that I immediately wanted to make it a part of my life forever. There was no fall out rate in her class. Thank you Mara.
A friend of mine inspired me a couple of years ago and continues to do so even though I don't think he has any idea how much I look up to him, admire him, and endeavor to be like him. His goodness, openness, brilliant intellect, and ability to think through possibilities, has motivated me to become a better person. My life will never be the same because of him. My life was happening to me but he inspired me to make my life happen. He'll never know how important he has been to me and my family.
I'm an activist involved in anti death penalty campaigns in Singapore. Singapore's only human rights lawyer M.Ravi is dedicated to a yogic path. I watched the way he dealt with the grief of losing another victim (a desperate working class single father hanged for peddling just over 500kg of marijuana last year) to the noose and was profoundly inspired to deepen my yogamake it the centre rather than an add on periphery to my life.. After this point my own grief wounds and prayers to the universe opened me to a series of other guides... and I have been blessed with many.
Seven years ago I was promoted from the viola section of the Mexico City Philharmonic to the Assistant Principal position. I won an audition. I felt great. Validated, proud that all the hard work had paid off, blah, blah, blah. Imagine my surprise when one colleague of mine could not get past his own disappointment about not winning the position. For six years he harassed me, calling me names, refusing to talk to me, doing his utmost to get me kicked out of the orchestra. The first year I was so stressed out I couldn't play in rehearsal without taking beta-blockers. Over night, this friend of mine, who had given bicycles that his own kids had outgrown to my daughters, turned into my worst enemy. He accused me publicly of "fixing" the audition, but refused to talk to me one on one. I couldn't stand it.
So I started taking yoga classes to deal with the stress. It took a few years, but eventually I was able to listen to the criticisms he would make about my playing, and use them to fix my technical problems. Yoga helped me to do that.
I would like to say that I ended up not caring about his behavior towards me, but that didn't happen. I ended up leaving the orchestra and returning to the states, but I took with me a solid yoga practice. He was an important teacher for me.
As a young child, I was fascinated by the work of Albert Schweitzer with lepers in French Equatorial Africa. I dreamed of doing that kind of work. But, I went on to become a classical organist, only to find in my studies that Schweitzer was an excellent organist, and produced some of the definitive editions of the organ works of J.S. Bach. Some years ago, I found myself working with a Catholic priest from Tanzania. Later, when I changed jobs, that same priest discovered about 50 "Lost Boys of Sudan" living in the neighbor hood of the church where I was working. Soon, not only was then entire community involved, but my job had been changed from musician to social justice. I did not get to go to Africa. Instead, Africa appeared on my doorstep. And that childhood dream became very real, and continues to be as new African refugees are brought to me for whatever help I can give. I am 54 years old.
How can one condense a lifetime into one event or place the onus on one person? Yet, my friend Paula, was the one person who gave me the inspiration to continue on my path. I fully knew that this path would take me away from her presence, would lead to nearly seven years of estrangement from my other dearest friend and yet would be the right path for my deepest growth. Now, because of her wisdom and my fortitude, every day brings miracles wondrous and precious. Each day is a tiny gem, a pearl of great price. Every day I thank her, I thank All That Is. Namaste.
My guru, who was also my first instructor is the subtle, driving force. She is the epitome of spiritual healing. I try to pass along to my students the joy and bliss that Erika has shared with me.
Many people and many events have influenced me. These events, persons and my choicesall have led me to where I am now.
It was the death of my father that brought me to yoga. I had never practiced it before. Knew nothing about it. But when I lost him, I lost everything else, too. And so I went to WalMart and bought Ali MacGraw's video. It opened up a new world for me - an inner peace I hadn't known before. And I slept that first night after doing yogabest rest ever! That was 11 years ago and now I am a teacher. My sister just said this morning how much I had changed since yoga has become a part of my life. And she meant that in a positive way! Namaste.
I was always interested in language and culture, but thought I had to go to an "exotic" place to do this sort of work (like Margaret Mead). I had a professor during my undergraduate days who said something like, "You don't have to go to Timbuktu to do this, culture is everywhere including right here." "Right here" was Ames, Iowa. Not really considered a cultural Mecca. I remember feeling relieved. I could live where I was comfortable and work with people who inspired me no matter where that was..near or far from home. I now work for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in northern Idaho in cultural resources management. It is my dream job. I've studied Native American Languages, mainstream american tourism, and Native American Archaeology and cultures. It's my dream job all because one professor opened my eyes to the opportunities.
I already had my own path but i picked up a hitchhiker called Shanti and we werent going the same way so we ended up stopped on a dirt road corner, talking about energy and so many amazing things for over an hour or so. That was years ago and i still find myself thinking about that man and what we spoke of, id love to thank him for his inspiration and encouragement, pure and truly golden.
My first trip to India really kickstarted my passion and devotion to yoga. The experience changed my life and I've been practicing yoga daily ever since.
I voted "No", because there were many persons and many events which inspired me to make my own path. Some of these I only recognize in hindsight.
I read about Bo Lozoff in Yoga Journal's Karma Yoga Awards article a few years back, and followed the link to his site, www.humankindness.org. At the time, I suffered from chronic depression. I subscribed to Bo's newsletter, bought several of his books and found my path. Since then, I have become deeply involved in service to my community of chemical injury survivors, www.chemicalinjurysupport.org . Since deciding to devote myself to serving others, my problems with depression have completely disappeared. I am so grateful for this new life!
Lots of people and events have inspired me, but two things have had the strongest effect. 1: Ending a painful and unfulfilling relationship made decide to pursue only genuine love and friendship. 2: breaking my back in a car wreck made me realize how lucky I am to be alive and that I need to get serious about following my passion for writing and yoga while I'm blessed with the ability to do so.
The big awakening in my life came through a sexual identity crisis, when I realized that I preferred to date men over women. Thankfully, it wasn't so much about sexuality as it was the awakening into who I truly am, beyond preferences, sexual or otherwise. I hated the process while it was happening, but now I'm very grateful for it.