My Not So Linear Yoga Journey
I found yoga in 1997 in the gym of my college where I signed up to take an elective in Hatha
Yoga. I remember thinking that I missed the days of being a flexible kid in ballet.
I’d stopped nurturing my love for movement after undergoing major scoliosis corrective surgery in 1989. Due to having a fused spine, I went into the class with limiting beliefs about what I would be able to get out of it. Nevertheless, I was curious.
I don’t recall much except that it was a crowded class in a cold gym with hard floors. Regardless, it left an impression on me. So much so that I sought out yoga again in 2000 while in graduate school. This time around, I signed up for a membership at a Bikram yoga studio in hopes to heal a broken heart.
I had this idea that the heat may help me to achieve success in most of the poses
regardless of my fused spine. In no time at all, I developed a daily practice and was left feeling
flexible and empowered.
This time around, I was experiencing the emotional and physical benefits of the practice. I stuck with it for about two years. While I loved my practice at the time, I realize now that it was a season in my life for which that style of yoga fit well.
Over a decade later, in 2012, yoga found me. I was pretty deep into my corporate career and working around the clock. A co-worker encouraged me to check out our employee yoga class on Tuesday evenings. At first, I was pretty passive about the idea but it kept popping up in my consciousness every time the stress at work bubbled up.
So, one day I decided to sign up and check it out. I noticed on the sign-up sheet that this was going to be a Kundalini yoga class. I wasted no time in looking up what exactly Kundalini yoga entailed as I had never heard of it. The description mentioned mantras which immediately grabbed my attention and became the motivation behind my follow through to attend my first class.
After a few short minutes in class, I realized that I had clearly not paid enough attention to detail in the description. The teacher led the class in a chant to tune in and immediately I began to second guess my decision to attend the class. I stuck it out until the end of the session. And while, there were mantras, they were not in English like I had assumed. Let’s just say I realized how much I did not know about yoga at that point. I also became aware that my blocked throat
chakra was a source of many years of emotional distress.
After that first class, I was in a state of shock. I thought to myself, ‘what just happened?’ And then, the following Tuesday I found myself back on the mat. I definitely felt safe there as we were able to close our eyes and go within. The mantras we chanted took me to places I had not gone before. In time, I was able to clear my throat chakra and feel the vibrations in my body.
I became more curious and wanted to experience this practice every free moment I had available. I began to take private lessons with my teacher and she introduced me to a wonderful yoga studio in my community as well.
Yoga had found me buried under a heavy load of stress and I found my breath, my voice, my
heart, and my soul.
I continued to connect with my mind, body and soul daily. After about a year, my teacher said to me, “You are going to be a teacher.” I thought this sounded absurd – primarily because I had no time or money to invest in teacher training.
Fast forward to December 25, 2014 when my mom was killed in a hit and run accident on the freeway in Los Angeles. My whole life felt like it had come crumbling down.
I am forever grateful for all the love and support that I received at that time. I am very much aware of how my yoga practice lifted me up from the depths of my sorrows. Now, more than ever, yoga had found me and I surrendered.
I decided two months after my mom’s passing that I wanted to sign up for yoga teacher training. I became a Kundalini yoga teacher in November of 2016.
While it has been less than a year, I have been able to share this beautiful practice in what is now my full time career. I now know what it means to have a calling in life. I genuinely feel that yoga has been my calling since that first class I took in 1997. I have been blessed to be able to combine my graduate degree in Psychology, my previous work experience and my yoga teacher training.
I am humbled and honored to be working in an integrative psychiatric private practice where I facilitate yoga and meditation classes. While this is just the beginning of my journey, more than ever I am present and in union with all.
Michelle Banzet teaches Hatha, Yin and Kundalini yoga in Pasadena, California. Her classes incorporate self-contemplation, mindfulness as well as breath work, asana and meditation. She enjoys teaching individuals and small groups as it allows her to personalize the practice. It also allows her to meet each student where they are and respect their individuality. “Yoga is unity and through a daily practice we can honor our oneness.”