I’m not kidding. I loooooove yoga. If I was a polygamist I would so marry it.
When I think about it, I realize my journey to health began with yoga, although I didn’t know it at the time. A little over two years ago, I signed Tim and myself up for a beginner’s class at a studio up the street called Wake Up Yoga. (Fellow Phillyites, Wake Up has three studios througout the city and they’re all awesome.)
Quick backstory: I used to be a runner, but a neck injury from a car accident knocked me out of running commission indefinitely. So for two years prior to the date of my first yoga class, the only exercise I could manage, other than walking, was the eliptical machine. Satisfying? Not so much. I had heard that yoga was a healing exercise, so I figured why not? Couldn’t hurt to try it.
I still remember the day of our first class. Tim and I had very recently gotten engaged. I was elated, but also stressed. The budgetary concerns of a wedding were already in the forefront of our minds. As we walked to the studio, Tim and I were arguing and I got so upset that I started crying. I actually had to take a few minutes to collect myself before I opened the door. I remember wondering if it had been a mistake to sign up for the class. Why was I adding another thing to my plate when it was already so full?
Not only was my emotional stress level high at that time, but physically I wasn’t at my best. I wouldn’t say I was fat, but I definitely weighed on the heavier end of my lifetime weight spectrum. The last two years of limited mobility had taken its toll. I was in pain every day from my neck injury and completely out of shape.
For the first few classes, there were a lot of poses I couldn’t do. I was scared of tweaking my neck and I was completely inflexible. Also, the whole experience just felt awkward to me. There was gaggy incense in the room, hokey decorations everywhere and sometimes we chanted weird sanskrit phrases. Those things were for granola-loving hippies. Not me. Please.
But at the end of each class, the instructor always said, “Think about how you feel now. Do you feel different than in the beginning of class?” And no matter what poses I could or couldn’t do, or what variety of incense was burning, I always felt different. My body felt warm and stretched. It felt alive. And I felt calmer.
By the end of the series, I had mastered some of those poses I couldn’t do at the beginning. I lost weight. I felt my body working again like it hadn’t in years. There were times in every class when I sweated like crazy and my entire leg or arm or whatever was shaking. And I loved it. After class, I would go home and sleep like a baby. In just eight weeks, I was hooked.
Two years later, I am in love. Not only is yoga an amazing, full-body workout, but it focuses on the mind-body connection in a way that no other form of exercise (at least exercise that I’ve tried) does. Yoga makes me feel centered and quiet. It forces me to live in the present moment, to feel grateful for my body and the things it can do.
Throughout everything that has happened these last couple of years, yoga has been a mainstay. It is a safe haven for me, something I know I’ll always have in my back pocket when the rest of the world gets too stressful. Because of yoga, I have deepened my relationship to myself, as well as my relationship to others. I’ve become a more spiritual person. Yes, I’m sounding dramatic here, but I believe every word of what I’m writing.
For real: yoga changed my life.
And guess what? I don’t even mind the hokeyness anymore. Last Saturday I took a four-hour yoga class. At the beginning of the class, the instructor handed out bindis for everyone. You know, those decorative dot things that some people wear between their eyes? I didn’t even blink. I stuck one to my forehead and wore that thing with pride.
So, yeah, maybe I’m a granola-loving-hippie-yoga-freak now. But I really like the person I’ve become.