My face was down on the mat, soaked in sweat from the past 45 minutes of Hot Power Fusion with my favorite teacher, Leah Becker. It was the beginning of 2011 and I was feeling anything but grateful. We were going into Bhujangasana-Cobra Pose after a long series of flowing, balancing, bending and holding. The tears came up fast and hard and I thought about running out the door. There was no time to think about what had made those intense feelings come up. But I knew it wasn’t the end of the intensity. Earlier that day I’d woken up in a new place with a different person than I’d been with for the previous 13 years. It was not an easy transition.
I’d raced to yoga again that day in hopes of somehow purifying “on the mat” the incredible scope of emotions I’d been feeling. I’d learned that if I showed up to the practice with whatever I was carrying that day inside my heart and mind and just made it through the hour, that I’d feel better. By this time I’d been going to Portland’s Northwest and Southeast studios for about six months and had completed the 200 hour CorePower Yoga Hot and Hot Power Fusion Teacher Trainings. Anyone who’s done the training can tell you – it’s tough. And it changes lives. It certainly changed mine.
The first day that I took a CorePower Yoga class is the day I fell in love with hot yoga. I’d taken yoga in college and at local gyms on and off for years. But until I found myself in a serious hot class with excellent teachers and practitioners I really hadn’t experienced the magic of what yoga has to offer. I fell out of every pose, flailed all over the place and probably stared too long at the amazing physiques all around me. After the class I vowed to try again. With my free week card that CorePower offers everyone, I went back day after day. I took Natt’s beginner classes, James’s free C1 class and Molly’s Hot Power Fusion. That started me off with a good foundation. A few months later, the studio announced a Teacher Training. I had no intention of ever becoming a yoga teacher. How could I ever be as good as these amazing teachers? I would never be able to memorize the Sanskrit names, the cues into each posture, the deepening cues and the systematic, flowing styles of these people. I was still working on my Standing Bow Pulling Pose. But something inside me said, “GO FOR THIS.” So I did. It was during the training that my life at home changed and because of the regimen of daily yoga and all that I was learning that I was able to stay on an even keel in the other areas of my life.
I lost over 30 pounds and went down 4 pants sizes. My diet changed as I did more yoga – not because I tried to change it – it just happened as yoga worked its magic on me from the inside out. I became unable to ingest large amounts of sugar and caffeine. I ate less meat and began drinking green smoothies. I thought a lot more about the meditation practices I’d been doing for years and worked on incorporating what I learned at CorePower Yoga into my regular meditation groups for my book, the 12-Step Buddhist. My confidence increased. My mind became clearer. I actually felt younger than I had in 20 years. And I still do.
Today I continue to study and practice in the yoga community at CorePower Yoga in Portland. I’ve taken the Extensions training and am currently enrolled in the Level Two Teacher Training. I’ve been teaching 5-7 hot classes per week at some other places in town and developed a special program called Yogis in Recovery for people who are addicted in a variety of ways. This winter I’ll be leading my own workshop on how to begin a yoga practice. There’s always more to purify and more to learn. That’s the great thing about yoga. At CorePower Yoga, I feel that I’ve found the perfect home to grow further and deeper than ever before. I’m grateful this year that I’ve found such a wonderful practice and beautiful people with whom to practice yoga. I recommend CorePower Yoga to everyone I meet. I believe in what my membership there can do for people because I know what it’s done for me. Bring a friend to a class today or better yet, to a Yogi or Teacher Training or one of the other great programs that CorePower Yoga offers.
Darren Littlejohn is the author of the 12-Step Buddhist (Atria/Beyond Words, 2009) and a Certified Yoga Teacher through Core Power Yoga. Find out more about Darren and his work at the12stepbuddhist.com.
Darren Littlejohn, CYT