Yoga & Swimming on the Mind

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
(Thich Nhat Hanh)

It's hard to believe that I've been practicing yoga for 10 years. I never thought I'd find a connection to anything else besides swimming.

For 12 years, I raced up and down the lanes. Diving into the water at 5:00 am was something I never got used to, but sleeping every night with wet hair was my norm. I spent a long time — the majority of my childhood, high school years and even a splash of college — as a competitive swimmer, focused solely on earning a scholarship (which I did) and maybe qualifying for the Olympics (which I didn't).

It was through swimming that I came to yoga. At 15, I searched for a way to calm my mind and my nerves. I found a Sunday morning yoga class that I quickly worked into my weekly routine. Yoga's focus on the breath resonated, working towards my edge intrigued me, and the concept of not being competitive with myself or others was a unique challenge.

My yoga practice followed me to college and it was there for me when I retired early from collegiate athletics. Throughout senior year, my love for yoga deepened when my friend Donica and I took classes through our university. When I lived by myself in San Francisco for 6 months, I toyed with meditation and tried to get an at-home yoga practice off the ground.

Once I moved to Raleigh, I joined the YMCA and came back to the mat. For awhile there, yoga and I had a good thing going, but I let go of my routine when I started this new job.

The beauty about yoga is that I know it will always be there for me. It's in the way I stand while waiting to check out at Whole Foods. It's in the way I sit at my desk. It's in the breaths I take on my drive home from work, and in the way I open my heart to strangers.

I might have a shaky Half-Moon and a Wobbly Warrior 3, but my belief in yoga is strong and I know my mat will be there for me when I need it.