Baptism by Ujjayi
By Aaron Krohn
The important and pivotal events in life are often disguised as commonplace occurrences. Such was the case with my first encounter with yoga. If someone had told me back in 2005 that I would one day be a dedicated practitioner of yoga and a yoga teacher, I would have split my sides laughing. Such raucous laughter would have likely aggravated my lower back, which at the time was plagued by incessant discomfort and pain. It was that same pain that made me receptive to trying what I perceived at the time to be the very unmanly practice of yoga. I was desperate, and willing to try almost anything.
And so it was on a trip to Mexico that I met Muriel Wuillot, my first teacher. She taught Ashtanga yoga out of her home, and on that first day proceeded to guide us through the primary series, complete with adaptations for flexibility challenged people like me. My entire body ached for days after, and in places I did not even know could be sore. This physical heaviness was balanced by an unexpected calm and lightness of spirit. Any notions I previously held about yoga being easy or not very masculine were permanently dispelled that day. Despite the ardour in my muscles and connective tissue, I returned for more.
About a week later I found myself back in Belize, armed with David Swenson’s practice manual and his guided audio for the primary series of Ashtanga. He doesn’t know it, but for many years he was the only teacher I had, the sole exception being a few short trips back to my teacher in Mexico. It was difficult memorizing the series and building a self practice at the same time, and I longed to have a teacher nearby. It was, however, a blessing in disguise to be forced to develop a personal practice from the very beginning. Today, as I prepare to become a full time yoga teacher, I look back with gratitude for having had the good fortune of encountering yoga and sticking with it long enough to realize that the benefits of the practice go well beyond making our aches and pains go away and making us flexible and strong.
Live Oak Plaza,
Stann Creek, Belize