It’s international yoga day, and I shall celebrate by writing about my yoga journey because it has been on my mind a lot lately. I found yoga after graduating college at a local 24 hour fitness after moving home. I believe this was my first experience to yoga and I would go pretty frequently. I loved the mind-body connection that I found in the practice. However, the classes no longer challenged me, so I took a little bit of a break.
Then, I got my second introduction to yoga when I was working near Santa Monica because my coworker and I decided to join a nearby studio off groupon. It was an awesome way to beat traffic and reinvigorated my desire to practice. This studio was filled with some pretty serious practitioners and I remember the first class I went to was packed mat to mat. I was apprehensive because it felt like we were in somebody’s attic, but as we got to flow breath to movement, I felt better. This studio did not have mirrors and it helped tremendously with tuning into our own bodies without comparing ourselves to others. To this day, this is still one of my favorite studios, but I had long since quit that job. The studio ended up moving a city over and I would still go once a week on the weekends, but life hit and my momentum stopped.
In tandem with my experience at the windowless studio, my boyfriend (now husband) knew I enjoyed yoga, so he asked if I wanted to join him for a free class at a studio his friend taught at. Thus, began my serious love for heated power yoga and yoga sculpt. I used up that free week like candy and at my second sculpt class was seriously considering getting into teacher training. I enjoyed it so much so, that I am actually doing it at three years later! But in between I’ve dabbled in Bikram and Ashtanga. Not enough to become an expert, but just enough to understand the basic postures.
I went on a tangent just now to explain how I got into yoga, but my point is: Yoga has meant a lot to me these past few years. In my teacher credential program, we had a class that asked us to share five things about ourselves in a paper bag and one of the things I made was a miniature yoga mat, to which I said “Yoga saved my life”. It literally shifted my mindset and helped me get by when I had to move home after college. After years of very negative mental conditioning, yoga became a tool to battle that with positive affirmations. I still have days where I get very down on myself and my friends anxiety and depression come up to challenge me. However, yoga puts all of that in check by making sure I tune into myself and find ways to arise through the challenges.
I used to drive and yell at every car, yoga has helped me keep my mind at peace and allowed me to focus on the present. I used to feel badly if I couldn’t do something and give up, yoga has given me the power of growth mindset and to push through without judging myself or others. I used to compare myself to others in a way that pushed myself further away from my goals, now I am inspired by other people’s accomplishments as I work individually on my own goals. It has saved me from perpetuating a pattern and cycle of anger, narcissism, and negativity that surrounded my childhood.
I am humbled by yoga constantly and in awe of it all at the same time. I have cried during Savasana and laughed out of joy in my Down Dogs. I have days where I drag my feet on the mat and days where I feel like I’m light as a feather. I know for a fact that after 8 years of on and off practicing and even just a few days break in between consistent practice, I have SO much room to grow and to stretch. I no longer feel “unchallenged” like I did when I began and I’m finding new depths within my body as well as my mind. I have many goals that I want to work towards with my practice, but once I get on my mat, most days that goal is to bring my head closer to my shins in forward fold. I have always been that child that needs to practice things a ton of times before I feel confident enough to go further, and so I nurture that inner child. Yoga helps me to absorb my feelings and digest them as slowly or quickly as my mind and body allow. It’s really a beautiful thing and I am so grateful to be able to do it as often as I do.
That is all. Namaste :).