I always envied people that did yoga because they seemed so calm, serene, and cool participating in the trendy activity. Being someone that could never touch their toes, I never considered yoga as an option for me. But then again, I never really considered any exercise perfect for me. I’ve done my fair share of spin classes, time on the elliptical, kickboxing classes, and slow runs struggling to find that “runners high,” but I’d never found an exercise that kept me wanting more.
So when a friend invited me to yoga one day, I was terrified. I walked into that yoga class not knowing what to expect, concerned about my ever tight back and hamstrings, and just looking like a fool in general. But you know what, that class changed my life. The studio was warm, welcoming, and (to my self-conscious liking) dimly lit. I immediately felt at home in this inner circle of yogis. And I’ll be honest – it wasn’t an easy 75 minutes. But I took the advice of the instructor, and I “looked back on my practice without judgment or praise.”
I’m not sure what exactly kept me coming back for more yoga. Maybe it was the instructor, the sweat, or my determination to maximize the 2 week unlimited special I bought. But regardless, I started attending class at least twice a week and began to crave that slow, sweaty stretch. If I walked into class feeling tight or stressed, all would melt away with each movement. I felt more relaxed in Shavasana* than I ever thought possible.
A few moments in my journey on the mat stick out to me. First, the feeling of accomplishment when I was noticeably closer to touching my toes, didn’t need to drop my knees in Chaturanga**, came into my first steady crow pose. I knew I’d truly found my exercise passion when walking to class one day and I thought, “I want to be upside down today!” Right? The “yoga high” I experienced when getting myself into a basket headstand was indescribable and left me wanting more.
I still can’t touch my toes, feel comfort in ragdoll, or ever want to do a chair pose. Some days Shavasana feels like a reward, and other days a true relief – but it’s always worth it. As many experienced “yogis” and teachers will tell you, even after 20 years they still feel as though they are a student of the practice, not a master. So for the next 20 years, I’ll sign up for class because its the first exercise to ever feel right for me. Namaste.
Shavasana: Relaxation pose at the end of each practice
Chaturanga: Push up position with elbows tight to the sides of body