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Milly Jo's Yoga Begining

How did I get into Yoga? When did I start teaching? What is my Yoga story?

Sit back, get a drink, this might take a while.

In high school, I was into basketball. I never thought of myself as a runner, but if you play basketball, you run. I wasn't the fastest, or the best, but I loved playing, and I played until the middle of my Junior year when I fell in love with making money working at my first job at Dunkin' Donuts.

After that it was step aerobics. Yes, Buns of Steel was in my collection.

I moved into my own apartment at the age of 18 and my first credit card purchase was a Pilates reformer which I used faithfully for several years.

I became sick in my early 20's, and once I married my husband in 1998, I had insurance and what was diagnosed previously as Irritable bowl was diagnosed as Crone's disease. My gastrologist, Dr. David Shaffer, told me it did me no good to think of myself as a person with Crone's disease. He believed Yoga and meditation would benefit me greatly. I had already been meditating, but got more involved with it. I started doing yoga with a woman on PBS, I believe her name was Patricia, she had 2 - 15minute classes a day. I would record them on my VHS player. Sometimes I could do the class, sometimes I would just watch in amazement at what she could do.

My mom took me to my first class at Slim Time Spa in 1999. Theresa Buckley was the instructor, she was maybe in her 60's, seemed healthy and very bendy. I sat in the back of the class so I could leave if I didn't like it. I don't remember what pose we were in, I just remember her saying to do something, then, she said the magic phrase that made me fall in love with Yoga. She said "or don't". That was it. It has been rare since that day that I have went more then a week without doing Yoga. Do this or don't. Never in my life had the thought occurred to me during an exercise class to not do it all, not go my hardest, my furthest. So rarely had I realized in my young life that I had choices and all of a sudden, this beautiful soul gave me a choice. Until this very day, the freedom I feel on my little rectangle doing Yoga is what keeps me coming back. The freedom of or not. The freedom of modification. The freedom to do an entirely different pose. Maybe that is not what draws everyone to yoga, but it was definitely what pulled me in, and kept me coming. Teresa's classes were pretty gentle. She encouraged me to take some more advanced classes and laughed at me when I was nervous to do so. Again it was her "if you can't do it, just don't and wait till they move onto something you can"; and, "Yoga should be fun, don't take it so seriously". With that, I was off. for the next few years, I took her class 1-2 times a week, and a Power Yoga class 2 times a week. The Power Yoga class had about 6 of us who rarely missed a class. The instructor we had left Slim Time, and the owner Wonda Reisinger (I have seen photos of her teaching step aerobics in heels. A feat I believe deserves being mentioned anytime her name comes up) began teaching the class, and she was intense. A super difficult class, at least for me. It was the same class every time, holding each pose for the same amount of breaths each class. I sweated like no one's business. Wonda wore a sweatshirt, I was in awe. In 2002, she went on vacation for a few weeks with her family. She was unable to find someone to fill in for the classes, and asked if anyone in our group would like to teach just while she was away. I did it. The first class was like doing yoga in fast forward, including the final relaxation. By the time she came home, I was enjoying teaching and my class mates enjoyed it too. I became the fill in person, this meant I had a free gym membership so I was able to take that money and spend it on going to the only Yoga studio I knew of in York at the time, Eight Stones where I took from John Protopapas. He encouraged me to not only practice in a class atmosphere but also on my own. After a few months I began to teach one class a week at Slim Time which meant I could take more yoga classes at Eight Stones. Pretty soon I was doing Yoga more days then not.

In 2005, just as I had received my first Yoga certification, Slim Time Spa closed. I began Teaching for Dover Township where I stayed for 17 years. During that time, I became a mother. Having the support of the woman in my classes became an intracule part of my life. They allowed me to try anything I wanted. I incorporated different kinds of Yoga, anything I read about, or learned in other classes and video tapes. They would try anything, tell me what they liked, what they didn't, what they wanted more of, what I should never do again. It was great! The Township allowed me to add more classes to my schedule. I taught at other places too, and enjoyed all of it. I always think, my favorite type of class to teach, is the one I am teaching at the moment. Loving what you are doing, usually means you should keep doing it. There have been many times where I have felt that maybe I wasn't qualified enough, didn't know enough, wasn't spiritual enough, thin enough, enough enough. Times where I wasn't living my best. The truth is, I couldn't, even when I felt those feelings, give it up. I needed to see the people in my class. Needed to learn what I was learning by teaching, I needed to feel the love from the women who came into the class and encouraged me to keep going. I still need that. I want to share what I have learned, more importantly, I want to share the freedom I feel while doing it.

I feel as though I must also mention House of Yoga in York, Jackie Dahlheimer. I was taking Yoga there for a few months and was introduced to her (the owner). She had a Sunday afternoon class available, and she allowed me to teach the way I teach, didn't try to mold me into the style that most of the regular classes where being taught there. It sounds strange to me now, but even after teaching for all of these years, I still felt like Maybe I didn't belong teaching in an actual studio. She talked me down from that. Took my class, talked about it, introduced me to people, and supported my decision to open my own place. I have taken Yoga from many people, many styles, many places. I have taken from no-one who can do assists the way she can. I have watched her use her entire body to support a person into an alignment that I would not have believed they could obtain.

I am so grateful for the people wo have helped me along my journey, there are more then those listed here. Some of this information is in previous blogs, some of it will be mentioned again.

November 2022, marks my 20 years of teaching. Such a crazy number. 23 years of a regular practice. Half my life feeling freedom on my little yoga rectangle, starting with a spoken prescription, and the small allowance of " Or don't".