My yoga story started at an unlikely place named ClubFit in Mechanicsville, Virginia. I had long wanted to try yoga but was hindered by the overarching view of my mom that it was some sort of off-balance religion disguised as exercise and of course my own fear of the unknown. I don’t remember what I wore to that first class but I recall that the instructor was very kind and was a true champion of proper alignment. I recall feeling very pleased with myself post class and ready to keep my practice going. Hurricane Isabel and the tornado had other plans so it took a few weeks before I could get back to the studio. It has become my go-to for life because when I fall out of practice my mood goes south and it’s not the good kind of south.
My go-to studio now is Project Yoga Richmond. I love that the studio is a living outreach to the community every time I practice there. I love that when I have a job and feel that I can donate the market rate, it’s okay, and when I’m unemployed and don’t have much income to spare, it’s okay. I recently started volunteering at PYR as well and the best part of this process is the weekly conversations with the staff and yogis who inhabit the space. If you haven’t volunteered yet at your favorite place, it is worth the time to give some volunteer love.
Anyway, back to when I first started practicing yoga. There are so many reasons to love yoga but the initial takeaway for me was the awareness of my body and the tension held in places that could be relieved by the practice of pranayama. I loved the audible breathing practiced by a couple who regularly came to class and I felt at home there. I love that even now I’m learning new poses that I have never heard of before. I love the community of being in a class with other people.I was not the kind of kid who reveled in competitive sports. I preferred to play in the woods or near the creek and dance to disco music played on our turntable. I was a free spirit kind of child. In some ways, yoga is like being in the forest because there is a sacred silence in the studio so the people are like little trees I suppose. Kind little trees that give us life support. Support for the week ahead and life every day.
Dawn Williamson, PYR Student and Volunteer