Guest blog- Brandi Braun- My Morning Mysore Love Story

After taking various yoga classes over several years, I built up the courage to attend an “ashtanga beginner’s drop in” class. The work was hard, but the passion of the teacher and the energy I felt from the practice touched me.  I knew deep down inside that I loved this practice.  I continued to attend classes as I could and as they were offered – around two nights per week.    As much as I enjoyed the practice, I didn’t love practicing at night – I left class energized and uplifted and then had to quickly calm down so I could sleep.  I knew this was meant to be a morning practice and was asking around for morning class options to no avail, so I kept up with my evening practice.

I will never forgot the day in May 2012 when I received the Facebook group invite to join the “Morning Mysore Club” – an early morning Ashtanga practice group, taught by Taylor Hunt from 5:00 – 8:00 am.  Joining the club required a commitment of attending three classes a week for one year.  I didn’t even have to THINK about it.  I knew in my heart that this program was for me and that the dedication needed would be good for me.  I signed up and came to Yoga on High for my first morning class on June 1, 2012.

I was so nervous parking in the dark lot and walking up to the studio.  As a 31 year old woman, I felt like a teenager on the first day of school.  “Who will be here?  Will they know me? Will they like me? Will I be the most inexperienced student?  Will Taylor like me? Who the hell is Taylor?”  I took a few deep breaths, walked into the studio and unrolled my mat in the second row.  I still remember who I was by…..Teresa…… who has a beautiful practice and one that can look intimidating to a newbie.   I remember her being so nice and smiling at me several times, which made me feel welcome.  I still get to practice next to Teresa now…we are both teachers and friends.

I won’t lie.  Waking up at 4:00 am for yoga was not an easy transition.  First of all, it required a HUGE lifestyle change for me: no more late dinners and drinks, no more closing down bars, no more last minute evening social plans.  I had to establish a firm bed time and, even harder, I had to inform my group of very fun and very social friends. Also, for the first few weeks, I was TIRED during the day – I wasn’t sure waking up at 4 was sustainable.  But, it got easier….much easier as I fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga.  In fact, three days a week of practice turned into 4, then 5, then 6 days a week as traditionally prescribed.  I reached a point where practicing made me feel better; it grounded me for the day to come.  I wasn’t the same person without it and “skipping” was no longer an option.  I have practiced sick, injured, sad, heartbroken, mad, stressed, tired and hungover  (I don’t recommend that last one – it is never fun).  It’s not always easy to “bring my ass to class”, but I do and I NEVER regret it.  In fact, I leave feeling better than when I arrived 100% of the time.
I leave practice knowing that I have just done 60 – 120 minutes of the hardest work I will do all day; work that challenges me on a physical, mental and spiritual level.  I have fallen, cried, cursed, smiled and laughed.  But when I’m done, I roll up my mat and drive home with a fresh perspective on my day.

I leave class every morning believing in myself.

I didn’t always believe so greatly in myself though.  In fact, I was very unsure of who I was.  Not to mention, nothing about the practice came easy to me.  I see some people come to class who were gymnasts, dancers, athletes and the physical part of the practice seems to come naturally.  This wasn’t me.  I have worked incredibly hard for every pose and every “yoga breakthrough."   Although my practice hasn’t advanced as quickly as some, I am glad.  The hard work, focus and dedication that I have been forced to cultivate has changed me…changed me for the better.

I couldn’t have done this alone, though.  I owe my practice and its benefits to the person who has believed in me more than I believed in myself – my teacher, Taylor Hunt.  Honestly, the simple act of writing this fills my heart with gratitude and brings tears to my eyes.   Taylor, like any gifted teacher, gives the student what they need even if the student doesn’t know they need it or want it– compassion, love, encouragement and sometimes a big swift kick in the ass.

Ashtanga yoga has taught me about love; how to truly love myself, those around me and life in general.  I can’t imagine my life without it.