From the NFL to Teaching Yoga

I never intended on becoming a yoga teacher. I was a football player. Grant the football player. Nice to meet you.

For nearly twenty years of my life football was god. God giveth--I earned a full athletic scholarship to (at the time) Pete Carrol's USC Trojan squad, then bounced around the NFL for five years. And god taketh away--after five years I was burnt out, injured, confused and addicted to opiates.

I don't know what I was expecting at the end of my football career. I knew someday it would end. But I didn't really believe it would. I know. That's not logical. But neither is running full speed into 300-pound plus men and being congratulated for it. So whatever.

Now that I think about it, though, I do remember what I expected at the end of that short lived career.

Luxury.

Huh?

I expected money. Houses. Cars. A family. A second to breathe. To relax. I had just given twenty years of my life to this game. A pat on the back would have been nice. Some sort of recognition.

But those types of accolades are saved for the Hall of Famers. The guys people pick for their fantasy leagues. I was neither. And unknowingly then, I just wanted to be seen as Grant. Not Grant the football player.

I felt unfit to do anything other than run great routes and use my hands to catch footballs. The tall pillars I once stood on, high enough to converse with the Greek gods, had crumbled. I was 26. And back at square one.

What now?

I panicked. I pretended everything was okay. Even got a daytime bartending gig at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Became extremely depressed and didn't understand why. And then...

....I fell into an inky abyss.

I left Los Angeles on a Tuesday morning at 3am. Vegas bound. No plans of ever coming back. I wanted to disappear from my family. My friends. Everybody. I felt embarrassed. Ashamed. Like I had failed somehow.

I dragged on that rocky bottom for an entire year before a close friend got a hold of me. Pulled me out of that shit greased abyss. Gave me money for gas to drive back to Los Angeles. Offered me his couch to sleep. Took me job hunting. Built my self-esteem back up. One of those jobs was as a front desk associate at Equinox West Hollywood. I started lifting weights again. Remembered how much I enjoyed it. Then saw people walking into a dark room by the spa one morning.

"Where are they going?"

The desk jockey at the spa looked confused.

"Into a yoga class."

"What's that?"

He explained it briefly--good for flexibility, mobility, and calming the mind,

Intrigued I tried a class.  From that moment on the course of my life has been forever changed. I honor myself for having the courage to try something new that I was unsure about. I'm so grateful for the teacher guiding us in a way that we had space to process what might be coming up. Because so much did. (For a more detailed understanding of what that experience was like grab a copy of my memoir, The Fifth Down, releasing this Fall!)

After two years of steady practice, I decided to teach. To give back to this daily ritual that allowed me to find myself. I haven't looked back since.