How Yoga Changed My Life
I started doing yoga when I was 19; my friends and I would go to LA Fitness, do what we thought was “working out”, take a Latin heat Zumba class and then stay for the 7pm yoga class. We used the sticky mats that they had in the activity room, we kept our socks on and we giggled the whole time.
We did not get the point.
And in our defense, neither did LA Fitness. The room was always cold (which is not ideal for yoga) and was constantly filled with noise from the serious lifters on the other side of the wall, that were grunting and dropping weights. As for myself, I was not naturally gifted at any physical activity other than running; with have long legs and a short torso at 5’7”, I am the least flexible person you have ever met.
My friends and I went to this class twice a week like clockwork for three months, which is when I had my “ah-ha” moment; I had finally meditated. I came out of my savasana bewildered and calm. Was I just asleep? No, I was conscious.. but.. thinking of nothing? After this, I was hooked, going to every class I could get my hands on for many months until I slowed it down to a few classes a month. Over time, yoga and I grew apart until I picked it back up about a year after my daughter was born. I had spent months going to barre classes, running and doing circuit training and had completely burned myself out physically and spiritually.
Life was too short to only be doing exercise as a way to look good; I wanted something that made me feel good. So I went back to yoga.
Yoga, in my opinion, is one of the single greatest things that mankind has mastered; it teaches you how to master all of life’s obstacles in a physical way.
- Breathing- something we do inherently and take for granted. Yoga has taught me how to control and lengthen my breath in such a way that is completely calming and beneficial for me since I am taking in more oxygen. (This was a huge advantage when my husband was trying to teach me how to surf on a day with choppy sets- being able to remain calm and hold your breath while being nailed by waves is key!)
- Balance- a skill set. Balancing in yoga and in life takes strength, patience and focus. Unless you are just lucky or skilled, you cannot just jump into a balance pose; it takes a calculated transition from one stage to another. To master balance poses you have to have a point of focus, a drishti, to refer to as you transition. This applies to life in the fact that your aspirations are unwavering; you may shake or fall over along the way but as long as you remained focused, you will achieve your goals.
- Flexibility- streeeeeetching. Something I am horrible at, physically and mentally. Once I have plans set in my mind, I do not like to stray far from them. Yoga has taught me to take life as it comes and if things change or are not what you accepted, that is okay. Physically, as one would expect, yoga has made me growingly more flexible (I can touch my toes now, people!)
With the changes my body has endured with time and with pregnancy, yoga has made me accepting of my body again emotionally and physically. While I love how yoga strengthens and tones me, I am more pleased with how I progress in poses and focus less on the aesthetics of myself.