Let me start by saying I am fairly new to yoga, new to practice, new to Pranayama, and new to this beautiful and multi-faceted way of life. About seven years ago, amidst a physical and emotional life crisis full of hopelessness, confusion and despair, I did my first yoga class. It was in a cramped room that I was renting from my father. It was the house my mom adored, took care of and had pride in until she passed. It was here, with an unloving father, his new wife, and in a house which was literally crumbling around us, that I found yoga. I knew that first class in this tight room was something special and the seed was planted. It stuck with me almost every day, for the next seven years, yet I constantly judged myself when I couldn’t find the time for yoga, and all the while I thought this judgment would encourage me to do more, to be more, but of course this isn’t the case. It simply wedged a huge wall between me and the beauty and magic of this practice. Anytime I judge or put myself down for not doing one of the thousands of shoulds, I think it will motivate, liberate, guilt me into what should be done. But it has never worked, not once. During those seven years, I experienced a complete spiritual awakening; through meditation, I underwent a transformation. I finally discovered who I was, after many years of living someone else’s life, of going to a dead-end job just to pay the bills, and living in a bubble of shame, fear and low self-worth. Initially my meditation was all about freedom—focusing on it, releasing it and intending to find it, but eventually it turned to abundance. Through this practice I discovered I didn’t know who I really was, and I had squeezed myself into a box—the box of shoulds. This was the root of my misery—it was going against all that I came into this world to be, and it was killing me. I continued down the road of self-discovery, and what I found out was liberating and terrifying: I was a free spirit. I was not like everyone else, not able to fit into a box. I like to change jobs, voice ideas, move around, try new things for no reason, change my mind and my direction based on following my heart. I had always held the notion that a free spirit meant flaky, transitional, nothing certain, never firm, groundlessness, but I came to realize that if I could actually embrace the transition and uncertainty—be groundless and accept it—I could truly be free. However, I was to experience more struggle and spiritual awakening in the form of my unfulfilled desire to have a baby. I tried not to focus on it too much. I thought I was going with the flow, letting it come if it was meant to happen and letting go of any outcome, but this was not the case. I was hiding it, blocking it, it was too painful to look at, too painful to know once again that my path was not going to be like everyone else’s. I realized that the spiritual path, the path of enlightenment, takes courage. It takes tears, painful journeys, and pushes you to places you thought you could never endure. After several months of painful shots, constant poking, prodding and extreme sadness, a gradual realization dawned on me that this was not my path. I returned to my mat, where I sought my spiritual solution once more. It was there that I woke up and I was free. Free of the ‘shoulds’, free of the bullying, the confusion, the self-doubt. I went to yoga by myself, every day. I cried in yoga, I felt free, I felt sad, I felt everything. There are no words to describe the magic that was given to me, and I wanted to explore deeper. I knew because of the way I felt and the emotions I was receiving that I had harnessed something special. The spirit called me and I knew I had to learn more about yoga. I wanted to learn about Pranayama, chakras, divine callings, asanas, heart openers, tradition and mantras. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a yoga teacher, but I knew I wanted to delve deep into the practice; I just wanted to live life, experience life, live the journey, and not worry about the destination. This is really what living is about, right? I used to think it was about living in that box: the box of constant. The box of confinement, of fear and of death. I was wrong. It took 32 years to realize this, and another life time of pain and struggle to come to this very enlightening place of freedom. Now, I am in the midst of my teacher training and, although it is hard at times, it is mostly freeing. I am a changed spirit already. I am learning everything I wanted to learn, and it is ever changing, ever moving, with no end. Yoga is a constant life teacher training. There are so many things to learn, to grow from, to implement, not only in your practice but in your life. From your body to your spirit, the practice of yoga is showing me the fullest and most balanced way to live. There is no way to know if I will fulfill my desires of being a mom through yoga, but the free-spirited journey and seeking of freedom led me here. The gifts I have received and continue to receive cannot be returned. I am forever receiving, and yoga is forever in my heart. By Becky Hernandez/ (The Misfit Yogi) is a Los Angeles native, Yogi, Intuitive Healer, Guided Meditator, Certified Reiki Master and life experience seeker. She is currently trying to embrace the path of most resistance. You can contact her via her website or facebook.