I share the following so that you understand where I am coming from and how my life experiences have touched my yoga practice.
I am a 41-year-old Puerto Rican from NJ. I have birthed three children. I had febrile seizures and allergy-induced asthma from a very young age. By the time I was seven, they also realized something was wrong with one of my knees. At age 9 I had my first knee surgery and had to learn how to walk again. This process was repeated three more times at the ages of 16, 20, and 21.
During these formative years, I wasn't able to take part in gym classes, sports teams, or any lateral movement. I was overweight by the time I was 12 and not knowing anything about nutrition, I incorrectly assumed this was because of the sedentary lifestyle forced upon me.
I lived my life angry and jealous of seemingly magical thin people who could do things like use stairs or wear high heels without thinking much about it.
When I was 23, I decided to try yoga. I chose a place called Studio Zen purely because I had a dog named Zen at the time. There I met P. Casey Maples, a yoga teacher who became my friend and mentor and changed my life.
I began testing my limits. I began believing in myself and fighting fear. I got hurt a few times, but I didn't give up. I continued practicing yoga on and off for 15 years until I discovered taekwondo.
My oldest daughter was enrolled in taekwondo and the instructor, Brian Peterson of Raritan Valley ATA, invited me to take a class. I detailed my history and how doing any kind of martial arts would just be impossible for me. He said he could teach me. I told him how delicate my knee is and there were some things I just could not do. He said he could teach me. I argued that I was overweight, completely ignorant of sports, and would be a waste of his time. He said he could teach me.
Now I'm a red belt in taekwondo and teaching yoga through his studio. I've come a long way, and it's just begun.