Meditate with Meg
My first encounter with yoga was on a Wednesday night in the back studio of my local YMCA with my mother's purple yoga mat beneath me. She dragged me to a class on a night that my weekly swim practice was canceled because of rain, which dripped down in small streams on the one window of the studio. I remember I was confused as the teacher spoke ancient and foreign words: chaturanga, malasana, shavasana. But as the class continued, I began to embrace the confusion, I let the teacher’s voice and movements be my guide. Soon, I was asking my mom to join in her weekly yoga classes. I was hooked. I had danced my whole childhood in addition to swimming and found many parallels between ballet, tap, modern, jazz and the centuries-old practice of yoga. All of them were meant to promote movement and harmony.
I continued to practice yoga with my mother in studios, our backyard, the beach and even our rooms– basically anywhere with enough room to do a downward dog. I began to get more comfortable with the poses and names. I was able to do a full class with my eyes closed or without looking at the teacher. I then joined my local yoga studio called Yoga On Center in Amelia Island, Florida, and found a beautiful community of yogis of all ages from all backgrounds. They taught me to push myself both physically and mentally, working through the emotions that manifest physically while on the mat. I learned to grow spiritually within an hour, letting go of the outside world to center myself in the present moment and slow down in such a fast-moving world.
Never would I have expected the world to come to such a screeching halt as it did in 2020. As the coronavirus crept into society, shutting down the world as we know it, one of my very close friends also had a terrible accident. I am someone who cannot wallow in grief because I grow restless, so I turned to yoga to heal. I practiced every day of March in 2020, continuing into April. I pushed through grief, frustration, pain and heartbreak to grow both emotionally and physically stronger. I could finish more vinsayas than ever before and even began to work on inversions. Through that month and a half, I realized that yoga was teaching me to be my own support system and comfort through the darkest of times. I began to think about how I could help bring other people to the same realization. I had brought friends to classes with me, but it was the first time I seriously began to look into teaching yoga.
One of my biggest inspirations to begin to explore the world of teaching is a close friend of mine, Bailey Sharpe. She began teaching in high school at a local studio and would hold discounted classes for high school students in the area. I loved the community she created between teenagers who would be the last ones you would expect to see in a yoga class and those who practiced regularly. I watched her grant them the gift of spirituality and cathartic release through physical movement. She brought smiles to everyone’s faces, even in the hardest of poses. Unfortunately, she now only teaches at the University of Central Florida, but I will forever be grateful to her for showing me that even teenagers have the ability to share the wisdom of yoga.
I continued to push off getting my teaching certification, as it is a significant time and financial commitment, especially as I entered college. However, as the chaotic buzz of the first semester settled down, I had the wonderful opportunity from our sisterhood chair to teach a yoga class for my sisters in Chi Omega. While the pressure of creating a fun, engaging and restorative class brought me nerves, my excitement to finally teach dominated my thoughts.
I prepared weeks ahead, searching for the perfect flow and playlist to create the best environment I could. We held the class in the front yard at sunset, and other than the numerous frat men walking around for courting, it was one of the most magical experiences I have had through Chi Omega. I felt in my element as I directed the girls from forward fold to downward dog to chair pose. The fulfillment I felt after class ended was absolutely unparalleled; I had finally been able to share the one thing that had given me so much joy.
While class went very well, I did not expect another opportunity to lead a class until I received my license, however, a few days later the lovely chapter of Delta Delta Delta reached out and asked if I would teach a class for their sisterhood event! I immediately agreed, and again, had a phenomenal experience. I saw the same smiles Bailey brought to students' faces on the faces of the Tri Delta sisters as I led them through our yoga flow, filling me with an immense sense of gratitude.
This week, I am scheduled to lead a class for another sister’s club as well, continuing the wonderful journey of teaching yoga that Chi Omega has provided for me. I could not be more grateful to be a part of a chapter that recognizes and honors each of its members' talents, as well as works to create opportunities for them to express those talents. Hopefully, the door Chi Omega opened for me with teaching yoga remains open, so that I can gain my license and continue to share the gift of yoga. Be on the lookout for classes with Megan Laffey at Rec Sports and Yoga Pod next year!