Hello and happy Friday, friends!
I did a glorious hour and half of P90X Yoga X this morning before work, and it inspired me to do a different sort of post to tell you all how I came to love yoga. Because at first… I hated it. And I bet a lot of you might be in the same boat.
It took me awhile to get into yoga mostly because I felt like if I wasn’t getting a super intense, heart pumping workout, then it wasn’t worth my time. I just didn’t see it as a “real” workout, like cardio or strength training. I am also the most inflexible person ever, and thought this meant I couldn’t do yoga. As a result, I went to a few yoga classes, got bored, and didn’t really ever give it a chance.
It wasn’t until I was living in Prague last year that I really started to “get” yoga. A new English-speaking yoga instructor came to the gym I belonged to, so I decided to go one day, if only for the fact that I’d actually understand what was going on. (In Prague I used to go to exercise classes conducted entirely in Czech. It was actually kind of cool, because not understanding anything makes you really pay attention visually to what the instructor is doing in ways you normally wouldn’t. It can just get a little awkward if they try to talk to you or correct your form, and then all they get is a totally blank deer-in-headlights stare.) Anyway, the American yoga instructor was great, and he taught a faster paced power vinyasa yoga class, which helped with my (initial) boredom problem. The class was also really small, which meant that the instructor spent the time to come around and correct our form, which gave me a lot more confidence in my yoga abilities. I think I was just so grateful to take a class in English that I gave yoga a chance I might not have at home… and I’m so glad I did.
Practicing yoga has a bit of a snowball effect. Once I felt like I was starting to do the poses right and better understand what was going on, I suddenly saw it as a cool challenge to do it even better. I started seeing results in my strength, flexibility, and ability to do the poses very quickly, which only added to the snowball effect. It made me want to continue to improve the poses, understand why we were doing them, and increase my strength and flexibility even further. Once I gave yoga a chance and opened my mind to it, I was able to stop thinking “This is dumb I should be running” and just be present in the moment, focusing on how good the poses felt on my tight muscles and how I could work to improve my form even more. I began to see yoga as anything but a waste of time — it became an invaluable way to clear my mind and relax after a long day of teaching; a warm oasis in the freezing cold eastern European winter; a way to tone up and strengthen muscles all over my body (so much for yoga “not being a good workout!”). And I realized that just because I wasn’t getting a crazy heart pumping workout (although power yoga totally makes me sweat!), it didn’t mean I wasn’t doing something amazing for my body. Our bodies need the stretching and twisting yoga provides just as much as it needs cardio. It just took me awhile to realize that.
Before I started yoga:
…I couldn’t even touch my toes.
—–> Now I can wrap my palms around my feet!
…I couldn’t do a side plank because my wrists were too weak.
—–> Now I can hold an advanced side plank for a full minute!
Yoga makes me feel calmer and stronger; not just during the actual practice, but also in my everyday life. I now view yoga as an opportunity; a time to stop thinking about all the crap I have to do afterwards and just enjoy focusing on strengthening my body, stretching my muscles, and quieting my mind. What more could you ask for?
Now I want to hear your thoughts:
Do you like yoga?
If not, why? Have I convinced you to give it a try?
If yes, how did you get started? Did you struggle at first like I did?
Stay tuned… on Monday I’ll be doing a giveaway for you to win a beautiful, high quality yoga mat of your very own!
Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m going to a fun blogger meet-up tomorrow… details to come