I don’t have an athletic background. My love for yoga didn’t come out of extensive training in dance or gymnastics, or finding it was a benefit to another sport I was doing.
My love for yoga was born out of anxiety. Moving to a new city in 2012, I began suffering with social anxiety and depression. Not wanting to leave the house, but knowing I needed to do something, I purchased yoga DVD’s and set up on a cheap mat at home in my very small apartment. The simple act of putting a disc in the player and taking an hour to myself felt like the biggest challenge in the world. Yet after I did it, I always felt much better.
The first yoga class I went to in a public space was at my local gym. Nothing fancy. No incense or scented candles. No special place to put your shoes or your belongings. It was simple. I think that’s what I liked about it. (Three years later I’m all sorts of obsessed with incense though!)
Much like doing it at home, every time I left a class I always felt so much better. Even if I was shaking and sweating, there was a sense of accomplishment, an unseen challenge was overcome. I listened to instruction intently and wanted to work hard – not to get the poses right – but to get that sense of satisfaction of trying (and sometimes failing) to work into a pose that seemed unreachable. I always had fun doing it.
For me, yoga has never been about doing handstands or balance poses in picturesque locations that garner thousands of likes on Instagram (although I do think they look beautiful!). Yoga became my mediation. It became a place I got to go for an hour and work on something for myself. Not for anyone else, but for me. The fun poses that I started to develop strength at were just an added bonus. Unconsciously, yoga began to shift my mentality that if I was non-judgmental of myself on the mat during class, that I should be the same in life. When things started to go wrong, trying not to judge and scold, but to accept the situation and take a few deep breaths to keep going. This is something I’ll forever be working on.
I want you to feel the same way I do about yoga. A place you can feel safe and guided. To feel like you can achieve something that may seem out of reach – whether that be on or off the mat.
In my case, yoga is not a quick fix. It’s a work in progress that I hope to be continuing on for a very long time. I hope you’ll join me.