October 29th, 2013

I'Ll Have What She's Having

By Manduka Ambassador Patti Cocciolo

What kind of crazy person decides to become a yoga teacher at 42? Apparently this kind of crazy person does. But to be fair, it was years in the making.

In 2004, I was just a few months pregnant with my first son when I walked into a prenatal yoga class in Mill Valley, California. I was nervous about everything at that point – the changes to my body, my relationship, and my career. I was also completely terrified that I would do something to harm the tiny being growing inside me. As I unrolled my mat, I was immediately struck by how calm all the women were. They seemed to have none of the fear that was controlling my every move. They were grounded and peaceful. They moved about the room fluidly, seemingly unencumbered by their giant, round bellies. They were laughing quietly and smiling. They were gorgeous.

Then our teacher arrived. She looked like an angel to me, with blue eyes that met each student with love. From our first encounter, I imagined that scene from When Harry Met Sally…. “I’ll have what she’s having.” She was, like her students, grounded…yet floating. Over the course of the next hour and a half, she gently guided all of us – from first trimester newbies to full term mamas – through a series of poses designed to put us in touch with the power of our bodies, and specifically, to put is in touch with the power of the prana coursing through our veins. I was hooked.

Two trimesters flew by, and I became one of those mamas. I felt both steady and nimble. I gained more weight than I know (I stopped counting after a certain point…), and yet I felt light as a feather. But more importantly, I wasn’t freaked out anymore. As important as the benefits to my body were, the benefits to my mind and my spirit were literally life changing. What a wonderful gift that is to give someone: to teach them how to use the body to open the spirit. That is some powerful stuff. I thought to myself, what a wonderful way to make a living, to impart peace and calm and kindness into the world – one person at a time.

Many years, another son, and a move to Los Angeles later, I finally did something about that long nascent thought. Six years after donating my beaten-up old mat to Goodwill, I took a yoga class. And while the room was different, and the practice was different, I had the same wonderful feeling I had all those years ago: I’ll have what these people are having.

I immediately signed up for an intensive, four-week 200-hour teacher training. (Ok, to clarify, I am also a person who signed up for a marathon as a way to lose my last bit of baby weight…) It was the hardest, most terrifying, humbling thing I have ever done. I was the second oldest person in the room. I was a marathon runner, but I was waaaaay out of yoga shape. My ego was taking a serious beating. I was missing my children terribly. Yet as hard as it was, something kept me there. And it was this: not only was I getting back in touch with my practice, I loved teaching. I was finally living my secret dream to follow in the steps of my yoga teacher from all those years ago. I was in heaven.

It’s been two years since I finished that training, and I’m now a yoga teacher. Our family has moved back to Marin County, and I often teach in the very same rooms where my teacher first inspired me to make yoga a way of life. I am grateful to all the teachers who supported, loved and inspired me along the way. But every day, I think about you, Zoe Collier Rolland, and how you completely changed my life. Thanks for giving me some of what you were having, and allowing me to indulge. I’ll do my best to pay it forward.

I'll have what she's having

3 Response(s) to I'll have what she's having

On October 30th, 2013 at 7:49 pm, Cathy Yonaitis said:

What a beautiful insight into how yoga is so healing, and how it continues to be a healing art. The practice brings us to our knees, looking inward, and spreading outward, the joy and peace that we have coursing through our veins. Great writing!

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