Women Inspiring Women

Yoga

Yoga
Lauren, my favorite Friday yoga instructor. Stunning!
Photo credit: Lauren Hand

Today I’m going to write a post I’ve been wanting to write for quite awhile now but wasn’t quite sure where to start. But of course, it all came

to me while I was in a Friday Deep Stretch class. It had been a long week. One of those with lots of fires and for every one email I sent, I seemed to get ten in return. I had planned on cleaning our house all week…never happened. It wasn’t a bad week at all but nothing went as planned, all week long. You know what I’m talking about. Anywho…come Friday, I was realllly looking forward to Deep Stretch, as I do every Friday.

I laid down on my mat, next to my fellow Friday yogi buddy. Knees bent, soles of my feet to touch, one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly. Breathe in. Breathe out. It was in that moment that was able to let go of all of that craziness from the previous week. Breathing in new energy with every inhale. And letting go of a little more tension with every exhale. And I thought, I’ve got to share this with my fellow You Be You Girls! 

What is all the hype about?

If you are not yet hooked on yoga, you’re probably thinking, oh good grief, not another yogi nut. I get it. I use to be one of those people who kind of giggled when I saw a scene in a movie with a man in tight clothing teaching a yoga class. I often thought of yogis as either being super crunchy or super pretentious. I’d secretly roll my eyes when someone told me I should give it a try. I’d use any excuse I could come up with. “It’s too slow for me.” “I’m so not flexible.”

Holy crapola. Was I wrong. First of all, one of my favorite yoga instructors is a guy. AND, it’s not weird at all. Most of the people in the classes I go to are completely normal. And just today I was in a class where I honestly couldn’t keep up! So not too slow at all! And, now, thanks to yoga, I’m finally gaining some flexibility. Duh, Lauren! This is where I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now. But don’t just take it from me. I’ve included some tid bits from some of my favorite You Be You Girl yogi fanatics throughout this post as well!

How I got into yoga

Michelle and her daughter practicing yoga.

So how did I go from being a total skeptic to a believer? Well, I’ve always loved group exercise. And a few years ago I was in a car accident and sustained a pretty awful back injury and haven’t been able to get back into the exercise routine I once enjoyed. I had tried yoga a couple times but I kept tweaking my injury.

Then I met Michelle. Michelle is my Physical Therapist. But she is way more than that. I truly believe she’s a healer and besides that, when I think of women I’m inspired by, she’s at the top of this list. Kind, genuine, and incredibly intelligent. I feel so fortunate that, besides the fact I landed the best PT ever, I gained a friend as well.

But I digress. At my first appointment with Michelle, she asked me if I’ve ever tried yoga. I mentioned that I had done a little but that I was very skeptical because I had tweaked my back in the past doing yoga. Michelle was able to give me some direction as to a credible studio locally and maybe some poses and general things to avoid (like twisting).

I wish I hadn’t gone to yoga, said no one ever!

From there, I actually decided to do a private lesson at the studio to get me started. Can you tell I was nervous?? If you have any kind of injury, I strongly recommend this. Credible yoga instructors go through a lot of training and they know a TON about the body. Not only will they be able to tell you what not to do and how to prevent further injury, they may even be able to give you some poses that could help your injury.

The other bonus here, the instructor at my private lesson was able to give me some direction as to what classes would be safe to start on my yoga journey. This was also key. Because I have injuries in my upper and lower back, I started with Deep Stretch and Slow Flow classes. These are the names at the studio I go to. Check with your local studio as they all use different titles. I went to these classes only for about two months but it really didn’t take long for me to be able to excel to intermediate classes.

Why we love yoga

Carly's Tattoo - Tree Pose
Photo Credit: Carly Urbanski

Now to the good stuff. Why do we love yoga so much? Have you ever noticed that most people tend to get hooked? There are so many reasons to love it. Yes, there are definitely physical benefits. But the mental, emotional and, even for some, spiritual clarity you can experience from yoga are like nothing I’ve experience from any other “workout.”

My best friend Carly embarked on her yoga journey several years ago. It didn’t take long for Carly to become hooked on yoga herself and is now a lifelong yogi. In her words…

I started practicing yoga for the physical benefits that I had read so much about and what it turned into for me, was so much more than that. I slowly felt better and better physically but what I discovered was how much better it made me feel mentally and then spiritually. Because of my regular yoga practice I now have a better understanding of my body, mind and spirituality, even if I go a few days without some sort of practice, I feel ‘off’ and know that my body is craving yoga. I am definitely on a yoga journey that will last a life time.

I couldn’t agree more with Carly. Something I’ve always respected about her is how in tune she is with her mind and body. And Carly doesn’t just do things because it’s a fad or for any superficial reason. So when she started mentioning to me that she was bummed that she was going to have to miss yoga tonight…or that she was so tired but she was going to make herself go to yoga after work anyway, I had a feeling there was something to this whole yoga thing.

Let’s get physical, physical

I have never been much of an athlete and have never claimed to be. I can rock out in Zumba class with the best of them…and before my accident, I could even do it with weights. (Oh yeah, how cool am I??) And I’ve done my fair share of working out…cardio and strength training alike. But nothing, and I mean nothing, has challenged me like yoga does.

I have yet to go to an non-restorative class and not sweat profusely. Mind you, I am a sweater. (Thank you, Dad, for passing on those genes) But I sweat at yoga just as much, if not more, as I have doing any other cardio workout. I’m not trying to tell you to not to cardio. I still do cardio in addition to yoga. But if you’re looking for something to do on your non-cardio days that’ll still push you, I’m suggesting you give yoga a shot.

Mental Strength

When I started my yoga journey, I never would have thought I’d even be considering the mental and emotional ecstasy I get from going to class or even doing my own practice at home. My mood and attitude can do a complete 180° between the time I start and the time I’m done. I have walked into class about ready to start pulling my hair out and walked out feeling like I’m on cloud nine.

Another benefit I have experienced is general mental clarity. It’s amazing how much more calm, happy and confident you can feel when you’re mind I clear of all the bologna. In fact, I was texting with Michelle about writing this post and she sent me this quote that I think fits this perfectly.

As she was swimming in the ocean of wisdom that dwells in her heart, she understood deeply that all was a part of her, that no one was separate from her. She whispered lightly with newfound peace, “I am everything.” That was when she realized that her greatest power is, and always was, her ability to love herself. – Yung Pueblo

With that, if you haven’t given it a try yet, I hope you will go out and give it shot. If you’ve dabbled, I hope you’ve been encouraged to take your practice to the next level. You deserve it. You be you. Namaste.



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