Healthy Living

Jumping From A Desk To A Yoga Mat

When to Jump, an independent media partner of The Huffington Post, is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion.

My jump was more of a budding love affair, or a slow motion fall into the practice and teachings of yoga.

Only a few years ago I was working for my father’s social enterprise food company ― the first “Buy-One-Give-One” food company around. We likened ourselves to the “TOMs shoes of food,” providing meals for undernourished children around the world. The work was incredibly rewarding, intellectually stimulating, challenging ― and to top it all off I had the honor of working with, and learning from my dad (and often with my mom, too) every day! The older I get, the more I cherish every moment with my family ― it was hard to think of leaving.

Visiting Haiti and malnourished children who received meals from the work our company was doing in the US.
Visiting Haiti and malnourished children who received meals from the work our company was doing in the US.

But there was something else. Since I was a young child, being of service to
others has always been important. Whether I was hosting/DJing middle school dances and donating the money we made to charities, or creating a saferides program in high school to help friends get home safely, or just slinging out smiles and laughs to any eye I could catch, I have always made a deliberate effort to bring just a little bit of light into the lives of others ― it is just something that has always been inside of me. The practice and teachings of yoga helped me become more aware and deliberate about how I am of service to my community. This ultimately allowed me to take a leap.

In a way, the idea of “jumping” began after attending my first yoga class with Rusty Wells in San Francisco. It changed everything, really. My partner at the time dragged me along, assuring me that I would love it. I walked into an already stifling hot room with 100-plus half-naked yogis, all beaming with smiles, excited chatter and an electric energy I had never experienced before. I was initially skeptical of the Sanskrit chanting and had no idea what I was doing, but knew I was in for something... different. After almost two hours of trying to contort my body and perspective, sweating more than I had ever before in my life, I experienced the blissful experience that we called savasana, where everything became still, my mind quiet, and I was at absolute peace, perhaps for the first time in my life. I felt a cumulative sense of love, community, connection and “Home” that I had never felt before. From that moment I was hooked. The yoga mat and this community became my second family, my church, my emotional/spiritual/physical sanctuary to work through the blockages and roadblocks that inevitably fall upon each of us throughout life.

After two years of almost daily dedicated practice, I took my first teacher training, all the while still returning to my computer and desk each morning. After work I would go back to this special sacred place and begin the practice again, learning and opening and feeling more and more alive and awake each day. I started sneaking out of work earlier and earlier and began teaching by offering free yoga classes to other folks who worked in our office in SF; my classes were open to anybody who wanted to learn and maybe sweat a little bit. Less than a year later, there came a point where the comfort of a salary and a bouncy ball chair became overwhelmed by an urge to dive deeper into yoga and life directly ― viscerally. I headed for India.

Feeding puppies in Nepal, overly bearded; 2014
Feeding puppies in Nepal, overly bearded; 2014

I’ll save the story of my year of travel ― living in India and Bali, sailing across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, caravaning through the hillsides of Thailand to the mountains and earthquakes of Nepal ― for another day. But suffice it to say, I came back a changed, and heavily (okay, fine, overly) bearded person. I was ready ― I was ready to be of service to people in a different way, through deep, mindful inhalations and exhalations.

I realize that there is no destination ― in fact, it’s not even about the “journey,”either. The practice of yoga reminds me in each breath to wake up, again and again. To open my eyes wider, and to deliberately take a breath and feel, deeply, how incredibly magical it is that we are even here at all, thinking and feeling and tasting and touching and breathing and sometimes even bleeding. I am in awe with the beauty that is life. Yoga reminds me to be grateful simply to be alive.

My “jump” was away from my desk, towards exploration of self and the practices of yoga and meditation. I joke, but it really was like falling in love. After the moment our eyes locked, I knew I was in love ― there was no question. The last few years of studying, teaching and practicing, my love has only deepened ― in fact it deepens every single day, in every yoga class that I teach. I mess up all the time, but I forgive myself easily enough and try to surrender as much as possible to being a lifelong student ― to remember that the most important part of the yoga practice begins when we roll up our mats, leave the yoga studio and interact with the world in each moment.

I’m thrilled to be involved with Jump Club I: San Francisco to learn about others who are Jumpers: past, present or future. I hope to be a student and learn as much as I can. I am grateful to be leading a special session during the event, and I hope you’ll join me there.

In a way, we are always jumping ― off the cliffs of fear, insecurity, jealousy, clinging, hate, aversion and anger towards the sea of love, compassion, gratitude, kindness and lightness. It is not really a road or journey we are on, nor is it about the destination. It is about awakening to each moment where we can decide to do it for love ― to smile to the stranger, to soften our edges, let the puppy lick your face, and to accept and even embrace our battle scars, to forgive and let go and begin again RIGHT. NOW.

When to Jump, an independent media partner of The Huffington Post, is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion. You can follow When to Jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For more stories like this one, sign up for the When to Jump newsletter here. (Note: The When to Jump newsletter is not managed by The Huffington Post.)