Peter Sterios didn’t think there was much beyond family, school, and competitive sports when he stumbled upon his first yoga class. His discovery? Yoga finds you right where you are, no previous enlightening experiences required.
I would never have imagined the influence yoga would play in my life at the time yoga found me. Although I grew up in California in the 1960s, I was a long way from Berkeley. I lived in a very typical suburban neighborhood in central California, in a very typical, Greek-American family. I was not inclined to think of anything beyond family, school, and competitive sports.
Over the years, the injuries I sustained in my youth as an athlete began to catch up with me and traditional medical therapies were not producing relief, which forced me to seek alternatives. In college, I was introduced to yoga by the chance notice of a flier, and for a reason not entirely clear to me, it was interesting enough for me to sign up. My first experience was not pleasant, to put it mildly, and extremely humbling for the extremely stiff athlete I was.
Within a week of my “retirement” from competitive sports, I met a teacher who I would end up studying with for 20 years. He was a former athlete, Vietnam veteran, and very masculine man—something I found surprising and refreshing, since all my previous yoga teachers had been very flexible, feminine women I admired, but had a hard time relating to on a yoga mat.
Over the two decades I studied with my teacher, I noticed how my life slowly transformed and how yoga was displacing many of the activities that previously had been causes of imbalance for me, both physically and mentally. This transformation also had an effect on me spiritually. I began to see life with a different set of lenses. And from that point forward, I became a different person.
Once I began teaching, the pace of the transformation increased. And then the day came when the teacher I had studied with for 20 years sent me off. Actually, his exact words were, “It’s time to get off the tit!” Not an easy thing to hear, but a necessary one, I think, for any serious yoga student to come to a place of self-responsibility and self-reflection. I have deep gratitude for the role my teacher played in my life and the gift he gave me when he said good bye!
© 2012 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies