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Why I Love Yoga

I went to a yoga class during lunch today, which is one of my favorite things to do lately because it really resets the workday and puts me in a wonderful calm mindset. After I finished, rolling up my mat and changing back into work clothes, I realized that it was the 3rd time I’ve done yoga this week. Wow. That’s a lot of yoga! It’s crazy because when I first tried yoga, many years ago, I didn’t like it.

Back in the day, I used to think that if a workout wasn’t heart pounding and sweaty, it was a waste of time. I thought yoga was weird and I’m not flexible, so I just assumed it wasn’t for me. When I finally tried a class, I had the hardest time slowing down and being present. Anytime I was in a pose for longer than a few seconds I was itching to keep moving. Even once I found yoga classes I enjoyed, mostly faster paced flow classes, I used to leave right at the end of class before savasana, or corpse pose, where you lie on your mat, rest, and give yourself time to reflect on your practice.

It’s funny because savasana is technically the easiest yoga pose – you are literally just lying there – but I initially found it by far the hardest, and I bet I’m probably not alone. Forcing myself to slow down and be still was HARD. My mind was always immediately back to my to do list. I didn’t have time to just lie here, dammit, I had stuff to do! Basically, I didn’t get it.

yoga studio dc

Man, how times have changed. Savasana is now my favorite part of a yoga class, and I always look forward to the time to be calm and still before getting back to the rush of normal life. I still love fast paced flow classes, but I’ve learned that embracing more restorative classes and poses is just as important. I’ve even challenged myself lately to take child’s pose instead of that extra flow, or to take the easier pose option on days I feel my body would be better served by being calm.

Just like how running has taught me that I am stronger than I think, yoga has taught me to be kind to myself. To slow down. To embrace the little things. That simply breathing in and out deeply can be amazingly calming when you are stressed out and need a break.

Yoga makes me feel more present 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.

Restorative, calming lunchtime yoga classes have become one of my favorite things to do lately, not because I’m squeezing in a workout in the middle of the day, but because of the way it leaves me feeling mentally. Relaxed, centered, present, and ready to carry on my day with a smile.

Why do you love yoga? Did it take you awhile to embrace it, too?

Comments

  1. 1

    Hi Anne, I love your blog! I embraced yoga in 2006 when I was starting to get healthy and lose weight. I weighed 227lbs and worried I wouldn’t be able to do it – but found it one of the best ways to re-engage myself with my body! It also taught me to calmly focus my mind, very useful when I began running and had to finish those long runs (and complete the MCM in 2008!). I’ve since had health issues, gained weight and struggle with exercise but yoga is still a go-to in whatever capacity my body is able.

  2. 3

    It took me awhile to embrace the stillness. My yoga teacher says that yoga is not about what you can do, but what you can let go. I actually prefer gentle, meditative yoga to fast flows. I think the faster flow classes are tailored to us Americans who have this need to sweat/be on the move. It is really an art to learn to slow down and let go. And omg at leaving before savasana. I’m glad you stopped doing that!

    • 4

      Right?! I can’t believe I used to do that. It was many years ago when I was right out of college and used to go to yoga classes at a big gym, not a studio, so others left before savasana too. I didn’t realize how ridiculous/totally against the purpose of yoga that was until I started going to studios/getting more into it. I love what your teacher says – I totally agree. I’m starting to enjoy the slower classes more and more.

  3. 5

    Forcing yourself to slow down IS hard. I’ve never been able to stick with a yoga practice for more than a few months. I think it’s because I’m so picky about instructors. I just have to “vibe” with them or I’m not coming back. I also forced myself to do hot yoga for a couple months, even when I hated it. Being that sweaty just is not for me. I would actually count down to savasana thinking “Yes, I can finally get out of this 90 degree room!”

    • 6

      That’s why I hated bikram. Sooooo hot. I like heated classes in the winter, but not crazy insanely hot. And totally agree on needing to vibe with the instructor!

  4. 7

    Yoga has been a life-changer for me. Once I learned to embrace the slowness (while at times enjoying the heat you create during flow) it changed the way I viewed yoga and my life. Yoga is no longer a “workout” but a way to enjoy a moving meditation. I finish my practice feeling ready for the day and life ahead. It’s my time. I don’t compare, I don’t think of anything but the movement followed by stillness in Savasana. I also learned that my practice changes daily – some days asanas come easy and others it’s much more of a challenge. Same with life really. :-)

  5. 9

    I actually enjoy yoga and running for similar reasons…I get the same feeling of focus, really being in touch with myself, and just being in the moment. For me, those slower, restorative and meditative practices are complete stress relievers, and I find if I don’t go at least once a week, everything in my life starts to become chaotic. Similar to running, some yoga practices are good and I get that “yoga high.” Some aren’t. But, it’s all still leaves me with a positive outlook.

    • 10

      I agree – when I think about it, yoga and running are definitely similar in the sense that they are allowing me time to focus/be in touch with my breath and my body.

  6. 11

    Yoga is just one of the greatest things. I couldn’t hold it nearer and dearer to my heart and I love talking about (I could talk all day about it!) It is so much more than a workout and I would feel lost and not “me” if I ended my practice!

  7. 12

    Bascially just a whole list of reasons why I should be doing yoga!!! It’s just so expensive here on top of the gym membership… that’s obviously a silly excuse though as I could practice it at home if I really wanted to right?! #beginner

  8. 16

    I love yoga, too, but am also in the mindset of wanting a fast paced class. I never used to stay for savasana but am trying to be more mindful in my every day life and trying to force myself to be still in Savasana. It is difficulty for me, but I do find it relaxing.

  9. 18

    Ugh, I really really want to like yoga. I did it a few years ago with some girlfriends and I liked it, but it was hard for me because I felt like I wasn’t getting a good ‘workout’ from it, so I just stopped doing it. I tried Bikram too and was too grossed out by it! I’d like to give basic yoga a try again, but I’d like it to be a smaller class so I can get more individualized attention so I know I’m doing it right!

    • 19

      Going to a really small class where I got a lot of attention and help with the poses was really key for me when I started so I could get a handle on how the poses worked. Definitely recommend trying a good intro class. It gave me a lot more confidence with yoga in general.

  10. 20

    I’m like you – at first it wasn’t very easy for me to stop thinking about all the other stuff that I had to do and instead just focus on being present on my mat. I’m a lot better at it now that I’ve been practicing yoga, but it’s still a work in progress.

  11. 21

    I love yoga but find that the culture surrounding yoga these days has been a major turn off. I notice that social media is full of images of inversions and balances that either explicitly or implicitly have a boastful “look what I can do!” quality about them. That is not yoga. Yoga is not about doing a headstand or crow pose. It’s about your state of mind. So while I love the idea of yoga, the Americanized version of it, which consists of wearing Lululemon and measuring success by what pose you can do, is not for me… and sadly misses the point of yoga entirely.

    • 22

      I agree, although I hope that maybe those who start out with a more American view of yoga will eventually see what it’s really all about. And if they inspired others to try it, even for the wrong reasons, at least more people are doing it.

  12. 23
    Molly A Corrine says

    I literally just took my first yoga class tonight in about 6 months. I am definitely still in the “need a good workout” mindset, but this was a heated class so I probably sweat out just as much! I thought it would be a good weeks de-stressor since I am working this weekend and don’t have time to meet up with friends. Still in school and I am finding it hard to relax during this time, but I need to learn how to…!

    • 24

      Yoga was great for me during grad school. .. forced me to chill out! Definitely helps with stress – good for you for making it there yesterday!

  13. 25

    holy, this is me to a T. i used to do yoga once in awhile for like 20 minutes, a podcast, but had never really done a class. then about 10 years went by with not doing any, as i felt the same way…no sweat, no heart pounding, no soreness= no work-out. but over the past few months I’ve had friends talk me into it, so i went (but really only bc my gym is having a class challenge).
    anyways, i appreciate the stretch and calmness, but its so hard for me to ‘like’ it. and forget about breathing correctly and shutting off my mind! but all in good time. great post…makes me want to keep at it :)

  14. 27

    I LOVE THIS POST! I can totally relate as I used to leave before the savasana also! I remember feeling really bored with any type of workout that required mental focus. Lol. Fast forward 15 years,I love my yoga practice. The mental focus is a challenge for me, but I continue to come back to the intention I set, and the outcome is glorious! 😄

  15. 28

    For me the quality of a yoga class depends on the yoga teacher. I used to love yoga when I lived in Boston because I found a studio with 3 excellent teachers, and I used to go 2-3 times a week (for any Bostonian reader: it was Coolidge Corner Yoga). Here in D.C I have tried multiple studios and different classes taught by different teachers and I have been disappointed every single time. I feel like I am wasting my time because after class I feel (mentally and physically) worse than before class.

  16. 30

    Yes, you read my mind! That is how I feel about yoga and I haven’t taken the plunge to try it again and give myself a chance to fall in love with it. I need to!

  17. 32
    Marisa Tomasella says

    Great post Anne! Very reflective and honest.
    It seems we all have experienced some sort of awakening through our yoga journeys.
    I’m now inspired to do a little afternoon flow. ;)
    Have a great weekend!

  18. 33

    I have fallen in love with yoga this year. It’s funny as the idea of spending 90 minutes on something seemed like a something I would never have time for, but I find that it gives me more time! Yoga calms me and has been a saving grace this year as I went back to school to pursue my masters. However the major reason I love yoga is that it has changed the way I perceived my body. After trying different types of exercise and going through the – I must exercise for an hour and get sweaty or it doesn’t count and I will gain weight and be miserable – phase which was terribly unhealthy and making me miserable, I gave yoga a try to see what it would be like. My major takeaway is that yoga makes me love my body for what it CAN do, not what it looks like. When I finish a class I don’t even think about how many calories I burned like I used to, instead I think about how amazing it is that I reached a certain pose or that my body can bend that way. I love yoga for the way it has helped me get over body image issues and be proud of my body.

    • 34

      Yes, absolutely agree with this — I love what you said about loving your body for what it can do vs. what it looks like! Moving just because it feels good to move is so much more rewarding than calorie burn.

  19. 35

    I tried yoga several years ago when it was still very Eastern… lots of chanting, etc. When I tried it again a year or two ago, I fell in love. I love Tara Stiles, Adriene from Find What Feels Good, and Erin Motz. It feels like a loving flow for my body, pushing myself, but then rewarding myself with yummy stretches. And yes, it feels like being kind to myself.

  20. 37

    I am trying to learn to like yoga. I have been struggling with a running injury and one of my friends keeps telling me try yoga. I am like you though, I have a hard time slowing down and taking the time to relax. Today I tried a yoga DVD at home and although I thought the instructor was a bit corny at first, I ended up really enjoying it and found myself more relaxed at the end. Next step: try an actual yoga class!

    • 38

      Yay! That’s awesome! I find it much easier to relax when I’m in a class vs. at home with a DVD, so I bet you’ll enjoy the in person version even more!

  21. 39

    Must confess that I feel about yoga the way you felt about it way back! Will have to take a fresh look at it! Thanks for this post….

  22. 41

    I think all workouts are good for our live. Workout have positive influence and it can change our mind (clear/refresh). I suggest you to try dance as well, not only yoga :) Marine

Trackbacks

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