Why Yoga?

I’ve been an active person my whole life. That doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with my weight (I have) or have always been consistent (I haven’t)—but I have been active in one way or another. I started figure skating when I was really little, played soccer until I was 17, and started running off and on after college. At one point, I was even regularly going to Pilates. The only thing that actually did stay constant was my inconsistency once I quit soccer. I’d pick something up and drop it soon after, swayed by the next new exercise fad.

It was through all of my fitness ADD exploration that I ended up in a yoga class at a YMCA while in high school. Right away, I saw yoga was something special. As a chronic worrier with a then undiagnosed anxiety disorder, yoga provided at least a temporary vacation from my concerns. I didn’t keep at it then because I was still so young and unfocused and went to college (Hello, shiny new exercise trend! Hi food!), but whenever I’d find myself worrying, I’d think about those first yoga classes again.

Fast forward through more fitness fads to an apartment in Indiana post-college. I found yoga again. I bought DVDs and a nicer yoga mat. It still isn’t constant, but my experience with yoga lasted longer this time and got me a bit further into my practice.

Press that fast forward button again to my final year of teaching high school English. For what I hope is my final time “finding” yoga, I rolled out my mat as a way to deal with the stress I experienced on a daily basis in a job I wasn’t quite suited for. This time, I downloaded an e-book by @jessicaolie, a strong and inspiring yogi on Instagram. The book provides stretches and flows to help anyone get started with their practice. For the first time, I actually practiced on my own, without a DVD, and it was totally liberating. There were afternoons where I ended up practicing for hours before my husband got home. Time would just get away from me when I practiced. I started to see progress quickly. My flexibility improved, my strength improved, and, most importantly, my mental health started to improve. I was hooked.

Yoga Mat and StrapWhile I was getting more flexible and stronger and healthier, I also started to heal. I had wounds, internal ones, that I had ignored for so long. Actually, I’m not sure I even really knew they were there. But yoga forced me to confront things buried deep inside and deal with them, and that confrontation allowed me to heal. There was uncertainty and there were tears, but after awhile, I finally found the sort of tranquility I figured only really existed in books and movies. With each deep breath, I became more comfortable and happier with myself. With each step onto my mat, I learned to love myself more, which in turn allowed me to really love others. And while I’m not finished with this journey yet (Are we ever truly finished?), I do know that I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been, and that’s really something.