I had just moved to France for a year-long appointment as the graduate assistant to Boston University's study abroad program in Grenoble. That in itself was a superb experience but hardly the subject of this post. However, there were two really important aspects of that position that led me to start taking yoga. First, it gave me some credibility in my field of study (French Language and Literature) which brought to me some translation jobs which paid pretty well. Second, it gave me a lot of free time. I was working 20 hours for the program and taking a class, but otherwise, my days were pretty open.
Up until that point in my life, I had always had this idea in the back of my head that I wanted to try yoga. I don't really know why. I didn't know anyone who practiced it regularly. My only exposure to yoga was through the lady (Lilias Folan) on PBS who must have come on right before or after the children's programming.
Maybe it was the leotards, the trippy music, the setting, or Lilias's kind voice, but the idea of yoga stuck with me, even though until I was 25, I never tried it.
Living in another country and spending your days working, thinking, talking in another language does something to embolden you. It gives you the opportunity to become someone more than your regular self. So, with all my money and all my free time, I sought out a place that taught yoga in Grenoble.
I don't remember exactly how I found the place where I ended up practicing. It was on one of the major boulevards in Grenoble on the second floor of an apartment building. You had to ring to get in. I remember hoping that this would be a way for me to meet French people outside of my work and host family circles. It didn't quite work out that way. Everyone waiting in the cold damp European hallway was completely silent. Initially, the teacher was cautious about working with me, excusing himself for not speaking any English. But I reassured him that I could speak French.
I don't know what "type" of yoga he taught or even if he would compartmentalize it. There was definitely a sequence which we built upon every week, but it wasn't Ashtanga. It was very gentle and slow moving. The room was always dimly lit and comfortable.
Instantly, this yoga made a big impact on me. The breathing, the postures, the drishti, these were all things that teacher worked on. They fascinated me and I wanted more. I quickly changed my pass from once a week to twice a week and thus spent two evenings a week practicing yoga and a bit more in my room at my host family's.
And that was the beginning of a beautiful journey.