Why I Practice Yoga

The idea of yoga always fascinated me.  I loved the yogi vibe, their lithe bodies, and their simplicity.  I first purchased a Pilates video and didn’t mind completing it, but didn’t feel passionate of accomplished in regards to taking them.  Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to go to a Pilates class at my gym, surprised and impressed that I was able to keep up with the rest of the class.  After sharing with a friend that I had always wanted to try yoga, we decided to attend one at our gym together.

The only thing I remember about that class is that my normally baggy gym clothes were not conducive to yoga; I spent most of the class trying to keep my oversized Eagles T-shirt from falling up during downward dog.  I couldn’t get my mind to shut down during Shavasana and laid there waiting to feel something zen.

As weeks went by, yoga became a class I attended regularly and looked forward to.  I enjoyed the challenge and found myself to be good at it.  Yes, I saw progress in my weights classes, but there is a much greater sense of accomplishment the first time you’re able to master a pose that has previously alluded you than there will ever be when you go up a weight set in class.  (“Look, I’m using the blue weights instead of the orange ones” isn’t nearly as cool as mastering camel or crow for the first time!)

I am competitive by nature.  However, my competitiveness is subtle.  You won’t know we are competing, but I assure you that we are in my mind!  I am not tiny.  My figure is average, but not what I would consider athletic.  Years of retail, waitressing, and teaching gave me muscular legs, but that’s about it.  In spite of my figure, I am really good at yoga.  It is rewarding that I am never the smallest person in the class, but I can keep up and sometimes exceed other in the class.  Once, I took a class filled with women wearing Lululemon sports bras and leggings.  I was totally overwhelmed by them (my issue, not theirs).  While fully aware that this goes against everything yoga teaches, it made me feel better to discover that I was just as flexible and talented in my practice.

Most weeks, I am able to attend two yoga classes: a higher and a lower level class.  Tuesday’s class is challenging.  I love being sweaty and winded when I leave.  Saturday morning’s  class is low-key and relaxed.  We complain if we are made to stand up.  During both classes, we laugh, get sidetracked, and engage in inappropriate conversation.  Learning the importance of breathing has greatly helped my weightlifting.

Yoga reminds me to take time for myself and that doing so isn’t selfish.  It makes me a better wife, mother, friend, and teacher.

Yoga reminds me that I need to recharge and challenge my mind as well as my body.

Yoga reminds me that it is okay to topple, fall, and not be able to do things.  If they are important to me, I will keep trying and achieve them.  (Hello headstand and mermaid.)

Yoga reminds me that I am a work in progress and that habits must be maintained to stay sharp.

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