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I often have people ask me how I got into yoga and other holistic practices. The short answer in my head is “personal desperation” but I try to give a more comprehensive answer when I do open my mouth.

My first exposure to yoga was in a rec hall at a church in Texas back in the late ’90’s. Honestly, I can’t even recall how my wife and I found out about the class — we didn’t attend that church, we had just moved to the Dallas area from the East Coast for our corporate jobs — but I do know she and I were seeking some form of exercise different than what we were familiar with being offered at the typical gym (weight-lifting, circuit training, aerobics, etc).

Thinking back, I initially recall feeling self-conscious as I stepped onto a borrowed yoga mat… I was wearing my ratty old gym shorts and t-shirt (probably advertising beer), and the only man in a room dominated by women in sports bras and pastel-colored spandex leggings. As the class progressed, I felt even more self-conscious, bumbling awkwardly through movements that everyone else appeared to perform with grace and ease. And yet, I also remember finding something comfortably and humbly challenging about moving through my untrained version of the various yoga postures demonstrated by the teacher.

It was as though I was actually feeling what it felt like to be in my own body for the very first time.

I had always enjoyed sports and exercise. I knew what muscle burn felt like and how my lungs ached from being winded. But the focus had always been on the outward performance – lifting the barbell, throwing the ball, carving the turn on skis, getting the horse to respond to my leg and hand or maneuvering the motorcycle along a course, reaching whatever goal the sport offered.

In yoga, for the first time in my life, all the attention of the endeavor was turned inward. I became aware of the movement in my limbs and joints, the stretch and pull of muscles, when I was centered and balanced and when I was off-center and unbalanced. The goal wasn’t a measure of speed, distance traveled, opponents beaten or score obtained.

The goal was simply to become aware of what it really felt like to be me.

*** I invite you to explore TheRecoveryWarrior.com with me as I explain the different modalities I use to help others on their individual paths to recovery.