Army Officer to Yoga Teacher…
Transitioning from a long career as an Army officer to yoga teacher was a major life transition – one which I didn’t plan or ever expected I would make.
Yoga – not for me….
As a hard charging, determined and driven Army Officer; taking a yoga class wasn’t even on my radar screen. In response to a friend’s request to attend a yoga class, I replied – ”maybe when I’m 90, I’ll roll around on a mat.” Like a good army officer, I ran and lifted weights – and believed that yoga was for old women and old Indian men.
In the midst of training for a second tour in Afghanistan, I was blindsided by a life threatening medical emergency – ending up in The Heart Institute diagnosed with a very rare disease. The only option, open heart surgery. Little did I know that this life threatening experience would be the beginning of a challenging and amazing major life transition.
Back to me….
After the surgery, with that same hard charging attitude, I headed back to the gym, running and lifting weights – determined to get back in the game and back to Afghanistan. I started an exercise video program. I would drive myself to do the daily training and also run on alternate days. Every evening I would arrive home totally exhausted. I was also having a lot of medical setbacks and was frequently ill. One of the video programs included yoga. To my surprise – it was one of the hardest of all. However, unlike the other exercises, after I did the yoga program, I had more energy.
The turning point…
So I made a decision, one which would prove to be a major turning point in my life. I decided that, from now on, I would only do things that gave me energy. I stopped running and lifting weights and focused only on yoga. I started doing Eoin Finn Yoga DVDs learning what I could. Around the same time, my friends and I registered for a 6 am morning boot camp at Halifax yoga.
The mat medicine and mirror…..
Instead of losing strength and stamina – my physical body became healthy, strong and flexible, I had much more energy and I was seeing my Doctors less and less. At first my mat was pure medicine. Then, one day, 10 minutes into a 75 minute class with a Master teacher, I felt my body screaming at me to go to the mat. In a child’s pose for almost 30 minutes, I experienced a flash of insight into how I was living my life – fighting and battling through everything, working to the point of exhaustion, resisting life, complaining and using activity and action to avoid feeling. My mat became not only medicine, but a mirror: a magic mirror that revealed to me my way of being in the world. This was the first step in a shift, not in my exterior circumstances but in me.
The journey continues….
Shortly after my mat reflected my life, I decided to take teacher training with the sole purpose of deepening my own practice. I never thought I would teach. My inner voice told me “There are too many poses you can’t do, you had open heart surgery, three parts replaced, your knees are shot and you have an worn out body – you can’t teach?” However, during one of the teacher training weekends, the same Master teacher told me that, even though I had major trauma to my chest, it would not mean I could never teach, she said it would make me a teacher who helped people open their hearts. I choose to believe her and not the voice in my head. I wanted to share with others the health, happiness, joy and lightness I found through yoga.
Transitioning from an Army officer to yoga teacher was one of those journeys that was really taken one step at a time…It wasn’t a thought out plan or a dream….it started with one step, getting on a mat and being open to see what happens. Join me on the mat and lets take the next step together…who knows what’s possible.