Breanna McCubbin didn’t have a glamourous reason to start her yoga practice.
Nineteen years old and attending university, she spent her first school year attending the cheap gym just off campus.
This was a decade or ago, and “Hot yoga” was an up-and-coming fad, although its roots reach back much longer.
“I knew I needed to do something to keep in shape, and I like heat, so stretching in a hot room sounded just fine to me. It was a struggle. I signed up for two classes in five days, and managed to take my second class before my time was up,” she says.
“I was hooked by the end of my second class.”
Practicing casually for a year or two, McCubbin found she wanted to teach. “It was the perfect part-time job for a student, although I maintained I didn’t want to be a studio owner. It’s funny sometimes where we end up,” reflects the owner/operator of Bikram Yoga Red Deer.
“This yoga gives you what you need. Not what you want, but what you need.”
Yoga provided a constant at a time when McCubbin felt uncertain. “I struggled somewhat socially when I was younger. Normal teenage things – self-esteem, focus, determination, faith in myself. I still have days when I don’t want to be around people, or get out of bed. I think it’s part of the human condition; we all have strengths and weaknesses and it’s important to acknowledge those and try to become more well-rounded individuals – strive to become the best versions of ourselves,” she says.
No one can change your life, your body, your mind, your spirit, but you.
“On days I wanted to do nothing and see no one, I only needed to get out of bed and make my way across the street to yoga. If I accomplished this, that was enough. My mat never judged me for the kind of class I had. My mind, on the other hand. Wow. What a crazy hard person I can be on myself,” McCubbin says. “I didn’t hear what my teachers said for the first six months, I just showed up and went through the motions. Slowly I started hearing more of what the teacher was saying, and a lot less of what I was saying. That has been the biggest gift, and the best part is that I gave it to MYSELF.
As McCubbin’s mindset began to change, her body and emotions followed. Today, she’s much easier in larger groups and in moving outside her comfort zone, socially and physically. “I can breathe and collect myself when I have dealing with a trying individual, and can more easily process and release anger when I feel wronged. The benefit is it’s easier to see the other person’s side and find resolution. I feel more balanced, energized and focused, and have grown to love the person I see in the mirror; we’ve come a long way from where we started.”
McCubbin’s body also changed. “I am less flexible (for me a good thing – I’ve learned to use my muscles), and my body is leaner, stronger and feels more like my own. I’m beginning to feel proud of myself. I am not ‘where I want to be,’ but I am content with where I am, and excited about where I am going.
“My yoga story isn’t about miraculous recoveries from injuries, or chronic conditions, although I know and respect people who have used yoga to help themselves heal from these. My story is a cumulation of small changes that have added up to a big shift over time. A normal person, suffering human things, who wants to be the best they can be. I know I am going in the right direction, and yoga is the tool I need to get there.”