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Why I No Longer Practice Yoga...

A Dream... A Disappointment... An Acceptance...


Wait. That's the entire article right there, summed up in one word?

Yep. But... allow me to elaborate.

I became a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor a number of years ago, and being as I wanted to ensure the legitimacy of what I was learning (I entered the Yoga world cautiously), I made certain that my Yogi was from India, not some snobby Westerner cashing in on the fad. The market was prolific with those types.

Certification in hand, I was so proud and opened my studio, which has gone through two name changes—now, with a permanent name and permanent mission. 

When I first entered the Yoga world, I was naive, full of energy and excited. A little scattered too, in case that's not obvious, but I was charged with enthusiasm.

Let's make people healthy! Yeah!

But... it didn't quite work out that way.

I ended up drastically altering the even simplest standard poses to suit my ever-deteriorating body.

It all started decades ago—my slow descent into crippling body damage.

Training for the Olympics starting at age 10, having my tiny body broken by overzealous, we-must-beat-the-Russians (who, 40 years ago were the main "enemy"—as it were—in the gymnast world) instructors, damage compounded by unbeknownst skeletal birth defects... and... let's just say, I'm sure you can correctly guess that my Olympic dreams were dashed before they even got off the ground.

I was good too... and THAT drove me to punish myself for being weak.

I continued with gymmastics, taught, took up baton twirling (where I incorporated gymnastics into my routines, mind you), was a cheerleader in Junior High and High School (where I was the ONLY gymnast on the squad and I strutted my stuff), taught modern ballet/dance, took up rhythmic gymnastics and, in my 30s, took up a sacred and prohibited discipline of Kung Fu called Wah Lum... always living with (and punishing my body for) the shame of being weak and having to give up my dream of Olympic bronze. 

Yeah, weird, I know. I thought the bronze medals we're prettier, and I wanted one.

I was going to show my body what it meant to betray me.

And was I ever wrong. My body had the last laugh, throwing me to the wolves in a way I never imagined. 

They say that "revenge is a dish best served cold."

And they were right.

It started slowly, at first. Knee pains. Whatever... nothing was going to stop me. I wore a brace. I dazzled at tournaments and brought home trophies half my height! Take THAT, gymnastics!

Then, as I advanced, the pain became nearly debilitating and I had to undergo an MRI.

With devastating results. 

I had severe degenerative bone disease in my right knee (bone on bone... no more cartilage for cushion) and moderately severe degenerative disease in my left knee. 

My body had finally won, defeating me in the most humiliating way.

I had to give up Kung Fu. Body - 2... Andy - 0.

So after nursing my wounded ego for a few years, I discovered Yoga and wanted to redeem my ego, make amends with my body, and have a new perspective on exercise: that I didn't have to kill myself to be healthy.

Now... back to that gung-ho enthusiasm I mentioned earlier. It quickly waned with the first poses I attempted.

Wait... why does this hurt? I've always been able to be a pretzel. What? I can't even wrap my arms around my legs any longer? What is going on?

My body had never forgiven me, rejecting my attempts at reconciliation, handing me the ultimate blow.

I was devastated. 

So, again, after nursing my wounded pride, I just knew there HAD to be others like me... those who, in a misguided quest to be more than we were actually capable of being, had ravaged their bodies beyond repair.

And, with altering the stances of standard Yoga, YoMediChi ©® was born. Now, that's what I'm talking about, body! Don't give up! Don't give in!

I was ready to tackle the world and even had the very high praises and recommendation of a 15 year Lay Buddhist Minister who exalted my new craft as the only Western practice that even close to what REAL Yoga is supposed to be. 

Ready, world? Here I come!

Not so much. 

I wasn't embraced by the Yoga world, as I expected. Instead, I was glanced at sideways, given the tongue-in-cheek nods of patronizing insults, and not welcomed... anywhere.

Even stressing that my style of Yoga was crafted for the morbidly obese, the physically damaged, the handicapped, and the elderly, I was met with snide and simperingly sickening remarks of how noble and wonderful my sets must be and "It's awesome to know that's available."

But, few takers. So local (what I thought to be) open-minded Yoga school in mind, I set up an appointment to become an instructor.

I was so excited as the studio owner and I chatted. She was down to earth. We laughed at the pretentious fad that Yoga had become, forgetting that it's about health and wellness, not trendy trophy wives in skin tight clothing, showing off their sculpted abs.

But... as we enjoyed our chat, I sensed that she too, wasn't ready to take that leap and introduce a non-trendy style of health to HER students. 

She, almost begrudgingly, offered me a job... which I politely declined. I could see where that train was heading and wasn't interested in watching the wreck slowly and what would probably be agonizingly, unfold.

So...I went back to teaching on my own.

Years later, now, the husband and I joined a gym after his heart attack and they offer Yoga.

I got a call the other day and an offer to replace an instructor. I excitedly told the gal on the phone about the wonders of MY style of Yoga.

She (personally) was very interested... but her students, she relented, were going to want the "fad Yoga," the Western and hip, child of Yoga... the breathing (which I offer as well—making sure mine isn't dangerous) and of course, your standard Downward Dog.

"Well, I don't do that," I hesitated. "For those like myself, with such extensive skeletal damage, that move is NOT good for arms, weakened by nerve damage and arthritis, or backs sporting a birth defect."

The conversation was over within minutes.

She's keeping me in mind for the elderly members of the gym, for future classes, hailing how perfect my new style would be for them.

I remain hopeful. 

Now, before you think this article is all about sour grapes, it's not.

I realize this is America and Americans want fads. They want trends. They want kitschy practices like goat yoga and potentially dangerous classes of Hot Yoga. I'm severely asthmatic and have chronic lung problems. At my age now, Hot Yoga would no doubt be my end. 

Goat Yoga? Really? Adorable, but if you feel you must incorporate something so silly into your practice, I'll just play with the goats, thanks. Why bother with the Yoga?

I can't possibly be alone, but when I warn people of the potential dangers of Hot Yoga (no matter how sexy it looks) they laugh at me. A girl I used to work with came to the office one day, barely able to walk and laughing about how sore she was from taking a Yoga class the night before. So sore, in fact, that she could barely move.

I explained to her that Yoga is NOT supposed to do that to you and offered her my classes... for free. 

I'll let you guess whether or not she took me up on my offer. Take your time. 

So even sore, discouraged, and injured, people still want what's hot... what's trendy, what's fashionable, and what's all the rave... not necessarily what's healthy or truly beneficial.

THAT is why I no longer teach Yoga and only practice for myself now and those very few, select clientele that "get it."

Now matter how well-intentioned, no matter how helpful I want to be, no matter how I want to take Yoga to a new place of masterful release from pretzelesque poses and discouraging disappointment for those just not physically able to "strike a pose"... I can't compete with a fad.

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