By Amy Luskey
For many years, I was an endurance athlete; a runner, to be exact. Sometimes, when I say the words “was a runner,” I shudder, because the words still sting. I did small races, half marathons, neighborhood runs and I even dabbled in triathlons.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this training, I decided to go to yoga. I had tried it before but never with any consistency. I’m not sure what shifted this time, but I went from dreading it to loving it. It was exhilarating, and the fast paced flow, arm balances, inversions and sweat agreed with the endurance athlete inside of me.
I encouraged everyone I knew to try yoga. They would roll their eyes and say, “I need a work-out. Yoga is too gentle,” and I would reply, “You’re mistaken my friend!” During this time, I was still training for races, but instead of flaring up occasionally, aches and pains were becoming the norm. To my disappointment, I found myself spending time and money on physical therapy. I was in a vicious cycle of training, injury, recovery, followed by training, another injury, recovery. Sadly, the time between injuries was becoming shorter and shorter.
By this time, I was on my mat about 4-5 days per week, and I began to notice a shift. A shift from deep inside me, in my head and in my heart. Little by little the messages my teachers were expressing were sinking into my soul. Just like that, a light bulb went off, and I realized this thing called yoga was way more than a physical workout; it was a spiritual (not religious) awakening for me. It tapped into an emptiness I had been aware of in my own religion; a concept that I also struggled with. I met with my Rabbi and explained my dilemma. He put my mind at ease and said that I was on a “spiritual journey”.
Over time, Istopped running. There was certainly a grieving process I went through, and every time Isaw someone running there was an ache in my heart. Slowly, as I listened to my body and honored it, the heartache tapered off.
Fast forward to today and I am a cerified yoga teacher. I took off my running shoes and replaced them with my yoga mat. Yoga has given me so many gifts, and I know from my own personal experience that this gift is available to anyone. All you have to do is unwrap it little by little.