How I Found My Way to Yoga

I took my first yoga class when I was 18 years old. I was a freshman at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I was pretty much considered a hippie at the time and had just become a vegetarian, much to my parent’s chagrin. The first place I ever saw anyone doing yoga was at a Grateful Dead show in high school. Since I equated yoga with all things hippie and counterculture of the materialistic 80s, I was interested. When I was figuring out my schedule for the second semester at UMass I saw that they offered not just one, but three different yoga classes for gym credit! Everyone needed at least 3 gym credits to graduate, so I signed up for a basic Hatha Yoga class. I wasn’t much of an early bird back then (and I’m still kinda the same) so you can imagine how excited I was when I got my schedule in the mail over winter break and saw that my yoga class started at 8am! It was also at the gym furthest away from my dorm, and it was late January. I had to actually set my alarm to get up for yoga, and remember cursing the alarm as it went off at 7:30am. I bundled up to make the trek across campus in the freezing cold, and thought to myself, “this better be good”.

I got to the gym and found my way to the class in a basement room with thick gym mats all over the floor.  I wish I could remember the full name of my first teacher but all I remember is that her first name was Carolyn. I have no recollection as to what we did that day, only the feeling that I left there with. I absolutely loved it and the metaphor I have always used for that experience was that it truly felt familiar and as if I had put on a pair of very comfortable shoes that fit just right. I was so excited upon leaving the class that I had to go tell someone. I had a few friends living on that side of campus so I went to their dorm room to tell them. It was now 9am and I knocked on their door and pretty much woke them up! They were happy for me but asked me to come back later when they were actually awake.

Needless to say, I did not miss a class all semester, and couldn’t believe how much I loved the poses and how good my body felt after class. In subsequent years I  went on to take the other two classes Mass offered, which were Kundalini and Iyengar yoga. I am ever grateful that my school actually gave me credit for doing something I loved and opened a door to my future in a profound way.

I’d love to hear the stories on how all of you found your way to yoga!


Nicki Doane