My first yoga experience
The first time I went to a yoga class, I was in college at the University of Texas in Austin in 2009. It was finals week, I hadn’t eaten nutritious foods, sleep schedule was non-existent and I wasn’t feeling well. One of my best friends invited me to a Bikram yoga class suggesting yoga would “make me feel better.” I agreed, having no clue what was in store for me. I got through the whole 90 minute class set to 105°F with 40% humidity. At the end, I went to bow down for the “Namaste” I ate it and woke up to my friend and several others crowding around me. A split open chin and bruise later, I credit that experience to the day I literally fell in love with yoga.
Yoga in a small town
After that shocking yoga class, can you believe I continued yoga? I became a regular at Black Swan Yoga, one of the first donation studios in Austin. Then came time to pack my bags and start my TV career. My first TV job was in Beaumont, TX. Stresses of the industry were incredibly high with demanding duties, schedule, managers, financial woes and no family. I turned to yoga. In between covering oil refinery explosions, 140-car pile-ups and a corrupt school district, I managed to keep my zen with online classes on a balcony in Southeast Texas.
Journey to teaching
My second TV job landed me in Oklahoma City. Certainly not a place for yoga, right?! Wrong. That state was magical for me. Then studio owner of Balance Yoga Barre, Ashly Bates, suggested I teach yoga. I laughed thinking not me. I didn’t think I had the “look” or skill. Ashly said to me, “you’re already a yogi, it’s inside here,” as she pointed to her heart. It was the push I needed. I went through my first 200 hour Ashtanga yoga teacher training with Andrew Eppler at his Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Norman, Oklahoma.
Yoga as a life-saving practice
“It’s changed my life,” yes, cliche, but it’s my truth. Yoga changed my life. Through the guidance of my teachers in Oklahoma, I discovered why no amount of running or burpees ever made me feel the way yoga did. Yoga combines physical, mental and spiritual practices to make us aware of who we are as people. Working as a journalist has been one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’ve faced the tough stories, the cut-throat business, the image issues, but I’ve also grown. I’ve become a leader, standing up for the truth and my truth. Yoga helped me understand and be ok with all the stories surrounding me. In 2017, I completed my 500 hours in yoga studies back in Austin, TX with Practice Yoga Austin. I continue learning anything I can from teachers and more importantly, from my students.
Ashly Brook Bates, my first teacher who pushed me to train in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Instructor for my first 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2016 at Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Norman, Oklahoma
Iva Drtina-Hall, Gia Parker, Shanti Kelley, Shawn Kent
2017 graduates of 300 hour yoga teacher training with Practice Yoga Austin
“There is a place where words are born of silence”