When I first started yoga several years ago, I did NOT like it. I kept it up hardcore for around six months until one day, I was suddenly so fed up, I walked out right in the middle of a class. I barely set foot in another yoga studio for the next few years. And each time I did, I’d always end up thinking, “Why am I here? This isn’t for me”.
I typically thought of yoga being a good complimentary workout to my usual routines but overall, I really just didn’t get it. To me, it felt stuffy, overrated and full of awkward postures. And god forbid, if I had to do another chaturanga, I thought I’d hurt somebody.
Fast forward to living in LA when I gave yoga yet another chance. Something had shifted. I started to incorporate yoga into my routine regularly and to look forward to it least as much as I looked forward to any of my other workouts. I didn’t realize it then, what the thing that had shifted was me. I had changed.
Why is it that I hated yoga so much when I first tried it? I believe it was for a combination of reasons. Here’s what I found and the lesson to be learned for each:
I wasn’t ready to feel vulnerable.
Those heart-opening poses, I gotta tell ya, they force you to feel emotions that have been put in place to protect ourselves since childhood. And I just wasn’t ready for it. I had those guards up for a reason and yoga made me feel uncomfortable in ways the gym never could.
Instead of heightened emotions, it would show up for me in much more passive-aggressive ways. In my close-mindedness, all I could think about was how weird it all was. Like, “What’s this intention thing they’re always talking about at the beginning of class? And why do have to sit Indian style after class is over and say Namaste? As if we even know what that means!”
If you don’t go through life with an open mind, you’ll find a lot of closed doors
LESSON LEARNED: If you feel this way, you may need it more than anyone in the room! Seriously, if I had been more willing to be open-minded and see yoga for what it really was, my journey to become a better person and ultimately towards inner awareness would have started so much earlier.
If you give yoga with an open mind, you’ll be amazed at what it can do for you.
I was in it for the workout.
Me about savasana, “You want me to lay here and do nothing for a full five minutes?! This is valuable time we’re talking about. I’m here for a workout people!”
I thought yoga was about the poses and the Instagram worthy balancing postures. I hate to break it to you but if you’re only in it for the workout, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
Yoga actually means Unity. Ultimately, it has nothing to do with exercise. Not really. It’s about the union between your mind + body. Practicing yoga gets your body ready for meditation. It’s a spiritual practice that connects us to a higher power… whatever that means to you.
Don’t get me wrong, yoga is definitely a great workout. I think getting some good exercise out of an extremely powerful spiritual practice is a pretty awesome bonus.
LESSON LEARNED: Take the time to slow down and understand yoga for what it truly is. Personally, I always find it easier to appreciate something when I have a better understanding of it. Go to each class knowing it’s meant to help you become a better person… somehow… someway.
Also, I always thought of a good workout as needing weights and far more intensity than a typical yoga class. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body has been trying to tell me to lay off for quite some time (oh the aches and pains!) and I kept ignoring it so I could have the perfect body. Well, with only a few months of mostly just yoga, I love what yoga has done for my body – and I’ve barely touched a weight or had to grit my teeth through a single burpee. Win win!
My first studio felt cliquey.
I didn’t realize what a big difference each studio is from the next. At the particular studio I had started going to, not a single person (teachers included) knew my name (despite going there for months). I could have sworn I walked into an exclusive club I wasn’t invited to. I felt so far removed from the stay-at-home-with-a-full-time-nanny mom crowd that even though they were nice to me, I found it hard to feel it was possible for me to fit in.
I’ve been to many studios since, but the main one I practice at now has an entirely different vibe. Some of the students are in it for the workout, sure. But I feel that most are in there for more, even if they’re not sure what that is yet. (Which I think is totally awesome by the way.) Plus I love the teachers. I swear they know every student by their name and remember every single thing we tell them.
LESSON LEARNED: Try out a variety of studios until you find one that feels right and keep going back. Make an effort to get to know the teachers and your fellow yogis. Every journey is always more enjoyable when you have someone to share it with.
My yoga journey has come a long way since the beginning when I tried so hard to like it without much success. Thankfully, I kept going back and now I couldn’t imagine a world without it.
I started yoga teacher training this past fall and we graduate this weekend. I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be your teacher just as you teach me daily. I’ll soon be offering a program for anyone local to Charlotte, NC that incorporates food, lifestyle as well as yoga. Thank you for letting me be myself and do what I love.