If you've been following me for the last 5 weeks or so, you have probably figured out that I'm slowly but surely becoming addicted to yoga. I had never practiced before, ever, but had been wanting to give it a try because of my poor flexibility. In my head I figured I wouldn't really get into it because I thought there was no way I could ever do most of it. I basically just wanted to find a few good hip and hamstring stretches because I'm consistently tight in those areas, and let's be real, I'm not an "om"ing, dreadlock wearing, tie dye shirt no bra kind of gal anyway (I'm ashamed to admit that I definitely had a "yoga girl" image in my head and I knew I didn't fit in).
Well, after my first class I was hooked. Oh and hey guess what! Stereotypes aren't always right and not a single person in class had dreadlocks or was chanting and swaying to some weird music (we did "om" though...well, everyone else did...I just started feeling comfortable enough to do that in my last 2 or 3 classes. Oh and I have met some of those girls in classes since and they're pretty awesome). I loved the relaxed feeling I got afterwards and the challenge was something completely different than I was used to.
I've ran, done 5ks, lifted weights, P90Xed it up, tried Bodyrock HIIT routines, transitioned to heavy weights with James Wilson, and never have I felt more challenged than I do in the yoga room. I sweat, I slip, and I'm stretching! Holy wow can my body stretch. I had no idea I had it in me. And my body pushes and pushes and with that I feel myself changing from the inside, which is something I never expected.
I feel....lighter. A little more positive each day. I feel myself letting things that normally stress me out (especially at work) kind of slide off my back little by little. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not a COMPLETELY different person, I definitely get overwhelmed, but I mean in general, as a whole, I feel lighter. One of my 8th graders smarts off to me in class? Whatever. If I could get my butt off the floor to finally conquer eight angle pose, I can definitely handle a whiny teenager.
I feel centered. I feel brighter. I feel more and more aware of myself and how my mood and actions affect others (ESPECIALLY as a teacher to middle school kids).
I find myself obsessing less and less about what my body looks like in the mirror. As I've told you before here, I've always had issues with my arms. My poor arms....I've loathed them to the end and back. But since I've started yoga I've found that I don't have to stare at them and pose and scrutinize every time I go by the bedroom or bathroom mirror. I don't have to stand sideways and check out my stomach. I just pass the mirror. Because I'm more comfortable. I mean, last night I did wild thing and took pictures to compare progress and realized that I've never noticed how strong my shoulders are before. They look awesome! I even did one of my challenge pictures in a bra and shorts and posted it for people to see on my blog/Instagram....that's a big deal for me. I just feel good. Somehow yoga has given me confidence I didn't even know I could have. When I'm on my mat no one cares how big my thighs are, no one's judging me or checking out my muscles like people do at the gym. And I do have big thighs. So what? They're muscular and how else would I be able to hold warrior III for so long if they weren't that strong? For the first time I'm not equating strength or attractiveness to how much you can see my muscles or how thin I am. This has been an ongoing process for the last year, but yoga has kicked this thinking into high gear for me.
I'm trying to not let my yoga stuff overtake my blog, because even though I'm loving it it's not the only thing I'm doing to stay active, and yoga isn't what my blog is about, so I'm keeping that stuff to a minimum. But this is my space, I'm honest with you guys and with myself, so I wanted you to see how this practice is influencing my everyday life, not just the sixty minutes I'm on my mat.
I know it sounds drastic to say that yoga has changed my life in five weeks but I've never felt so accurate about something before, and I feel like I've never been so aware of how it's changing me DURING the process. I'm just getting started and I'm already feeling so great. I'm so excited to see where I'll be at a year from now in my practice and in life.
***I was inspired to write this post after reading this blog post from Rachel Brathen. If you haven't heard of her before, check her out. Follow her Instagram. She's quite amazing. She wrote a post on "Why We Practice" and it really resonated with me.***