My Journey to the Mat
by Deirdre McWade, 200 Hour Certified Yoga teacher
Like many other Yogis and Yoga teachers I’ve met, chronic pain was what first brought me to my mat. In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had pain everywhere, from my neck to my feet. A friend suggested going to Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga studio in Cambridge. So, I fought rush hour traffic to make the 5:45 class and I was hooked, from the first class. I bought the t-shirt, book, and the DVD:,’Journey into Power’. Oh, and a Krishna Das CD.
The heat and the poses unlocked tension, relieved pain, and the sequence offered a full body workout. To my achy bones, it felt like I was the Tinman who found the oilcan. The challenges of the backbends and the arm balances nurtured my competitive streak. Although, in all honesty, I did not yet appreciate the quiet of Savasana. That was almost 20 years ago, and there are days I still practice that DVD, which now lives as a video on my iPhone. It’s a sequence I never get tired of, and always find comfort in, like my Mother’s Shepard’s Pie.
I’ve tried other types of Yoga, like Bikram, Ashtanga, Yoga with weights, even Yoga on a Paddleboard. I draw the line with goats. And then, life aligned itself in a way that gave me the opportunity to become a teacher at Revolution Community Yoga in Acton and Westford.
I’ve been practicing under the guidance of Revolution Community Yoga teachers for quite a while now (no goats there…yet) and trained with Cindy to become a teacher. It’s been here, at our studio, that my practice has been truly nurtured. I was introduced to meditation, and Restorative Yoga, which brings calm and balance to my life off the mat. I now use Savasana to ground myself to the present moment, and I sneak in a little gratitude practice in that final side lying child’s pose, every time😊
I continue to seek Power and a good Vinyasa flow, it’s my shepard’s pie after all. Patanjali (OG Yogi) offered the perspective, that we achieve yoga by identifying and removing the kleshas (affliction or suffering) in our systems. For me, that used to mean a sweaty Vinyasa flow to get my joints moving in all directions, but I know that on the days that doesn’t show up for me, a slow flow or a restorative class gets the job done too, if the intention is there. Clearing the Kleshas of my mind and being able to find comfort while being still is a greater challenge than Crow, Wheel and Pigeon all Vinyasa’d together!
So, maybe you are considering taking a yoga class for the first time, because of your aches and pains, to relieve stress, or to kick your Kleshas to the curb. Or you want to tone up, lose weight, gain strength, find a sacred space, I don’t think the motivation that brings you to the mat matters. What matters is: you are opening yourself up to the possibility of change. And maybe you’ll get hooked. And buy the t-shirt.