I’ve exercised my entire life and I’m here to tell you that yoga does work. But, my journey to yoga has been a long and winding road. Since I was young, my parents made an effort to make that a priority for me and I thank them for that. They even paid for a gym membership while I was in high school and throughout my college years. They always emphasized that it was good for your health, body and mind to keep your body fit. Although a gym was always available to me, what I did for exercise has changed throughout the years depending on many factors including time, children, interests, friends, motivation, what I enjoyed and what produced results. My yoga journey didn’t begin until about four years ago. Since then, yoga has enhanced other fitness activities that are part my life. My overall mindset and fitness level have changed quite a bit over these past few years. Here’s my story.
I started by taking classes when I joined my husband for business trips. He worked and I did yoga:) I loved it and was surprised at how challenging it was and how much better I felt after a good class. After some time, yoga became “the thing to do” for exercise and slowly I began to see yoga classes offered at the gyms, and eventually, yoga studios started popping up. Keep in mind, I live in a small town and although it was popular in the big cities, it didn’t really catch fire in my town until recent years. I started in a small class where a friend of mine taught spin. She would do a mini-yoga session afterward and that was the beginning of a consistent yoga practice for me.
A Studio Opens
I eventually graduated from a mini-yoga session to a real studio that offered yoga classes as their primary form of fitness. Woohooo! I was moving up in the world of yoga:) I really caught the fever and was consistent with the practice. It took me a while to get use to all the heavy breathers in the class and I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t pick up that trait. More on that later:) I should also mention it took incredible discipline not to get up, grab my mat and run out the door instead of doing what all good yogis do at the end of class – stay for savasana or corpse pose. Naptime seemed like such a waste of time. Trust me when I say, there is hope for all you type A ladies. Oh, and I did invest in some great slip-on shoes. Tennis shoes on a yoga floor will warrant the stink-eye, even from the most relaxed yogi on the planet! All of this was new to me, despite moving up in the world of yoga. I had a lot to learn.
I was encouraged to take the teacher training. Who me, teach? No, but I wouldn’t mind learning how to do all those cool arm balances and become better educated about yoga. Well, yoga does help with an open mind. I ended up taking the six month yoga training course, and you guessed it, decided to teach. Helping others with their practice was fun for me. I love watching students progress in their practice. I also like to be accountable to others. It keeps me on top of things and forces me not to get stale in my own practice. Thankfully, the instructors that led the yoga training included some yoga etiquette. If you are new to yoga, you will appreciate the heads up.
- Keep conversations low or outside the studio.
- Turn your phones off.
- Don’t walk on studio floors with shoes.
- Heavy breathers are allowed – they aren’t pretending to be Darth Vader. That breath is the ujjayi breath, or breath from the diaphragm, which helps you stay focused and centered while moving from posture to posture.
- No slapping the mats down on the floor. Unroll gently.
Aside from my individual practice and my teaching, I found partner yoga to be a blast. You learn a lot from each other and make progress with your practice. This session at A Hopeful Balance was a lot of fun.
Yes, I got my husband to do yoga too. He was inspired by a partner yoga challenge offered at A Hopeful Balance. I must say, he is such a good sport! If he can do yoga, so can you! Let this be an inspiration for yoga newbies.
How My Practice Has Changed
Over the years, I have taken a variety of yoga classes and initially, I liked the power classes the best. Now, I love the gentle classes but I’m always up for a good sweat too. I was surprised how hard yoga was and how much improvement you could make with a few classes. This totally replaced my weight workouts and became my go-to exercise aside from walks with friends. I gave up running, as I never really liked it. My go-to fitness workout was yoga. This worked for a couple years but then I noticed some changes in my body, motivation etc… that prompted some changes.
Although yoga is my jam, I like to keep things fresh and try new things. Along the way, I started doing The FASTer Way to Fat Loss program and realized I needed more than yoga. I needed to hit the weights again. And I needed to keep my food in check. I completed that program and found that my yoga practice really helped with my other fitness activities. As we age, our needs change. And our goals change, not to mention motivation. In my 20s vanity is what kept me going. Not gonna lie, it still plays a role, but it’s more about feeling good and staying healthy. I’ve found having a good balance with fitness is the sweet spot.
Need a New Workout?
If you don’t have an exercise routine and are interested in yoga, hit your local studio and take a few classes. Just test the waters. If you don’t like it at first, try another type of class or change studios. Power yoga might not be your cup of tea but there is enough variety in yoga that I bet there is something for you. Yoga has many benefits in addition to the physical. You can do it anywhere, you don’t need equipment and it helps with other fitness activities you may want to do. The bonus is, it’s the cheapest form of physical and mental therapy on the market!
If you are curious about the practice, head to your local studio. If you already practice yoga and need something to accompany it, check out my article on the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. This combo has been a game changer for me.
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