I signed up for my first yoga class a dozen years ago through the county’s community school.  I still remember the class times – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m.  I remember so precisely because the class represented my first child-free moments since the birth of Brainiac.  Until I enrolled in that fateful class, I hadn’t had even a private bathroom moment for more than five years.

The classroom atmosphere was far from warm and inviting, taking place in a high school gym – dirty, noisy, icy cold, impersonal.  And the teacher was quirky, with a gravelly voice, flowy hippie chick clothing and a long braid that fell past her waist.  She tended to ramble when she talked.  But something special radiated from her when I stopped and took stock: she knew exactly what she was doing; she noticed everything.  Woven within her rambles were solid, thorough explanations.

Under her guidance, I became hooked on yoga.  I stayed with her in that gym until she chose to move her classes to a county park.  The new location was a bit too far away; getting to her now required a real time commitment on my part.  I’d still try to squeeze in an occasional Saturday class when the kids weren’t busy with their various activities, but my time with her slowly dwindled.

She was the one who first suggested I would make a good yoga teacher.  I tucked that thought into the back of my head, where it finally emerged this past year.

Now that I’m on the cusp of becoming a certified yoga teacher, I made a point of attending her class this morning for several reasons.  The most important: it mattered greatly to me that this woman, who started me down my path, would be listed as one of my outside contact teachers.  I wanted to pay homage to her influence on me.

She was happy to see me; in her unforgettable rambling fashion, she told the class all about me and my journey as we settled in.  I then proceeded to enjoy a beautiful outdoor practice, looking up at the brilliant sky, the puffy clouds and the graceful hawks swooping lazily above us.  I heard the palm trees rustling in the breeze, enjoyed the sun warm on my face.  It felt like coming home: for me, at least, it was yoga as it’s meant to be, absent the flash and fuss of the fancier studios, the demands for acrobatic perfection.

As we packed up after class, my teacher told me she always thought I carried something special, a palpable spirtuality.  Then she asked if I would substitute for her during the summer.  She had asked once before, but I didn’t think she was serious.

She was serious.  So this time I said yes.

We filled out the paperwork before I left the park; I’m now in the process of being vetted by the county.  And then, on occasion, I will step alongside (not into) the shoes of the women who started it all for me.