I never thought yoga would be for me. Nothing about it appealed to me. The thought of holding a difficult stretch for a prolonged period of time while trying to be “relaxed” did not sound the least bit enjoyable. And hot yoga? Forget about it! But the thought of vigorous exercise made me want to puke, and it had come to the point where I had to try something, anything to finally alleviate some of my anxiety. Yoga was my mom’s suggestion, and like anything moms suggest when it comes to taking care of ourselves, I was reluctant to see the benefit. How could taking up yoga and trying to fit yet another thing into my already packed schedule possibly make me feel any less anxious? But weighing that against the stomachaches I was getting on a daily basis and the anxiety mounting in my chest, I had to try something.
Once I put my mind to starting yoga, I began to look to the internet for resources. I began to follow a ton of yoga profiles on social media, and I found it very hard not to get caught up in all the seemingly perfect social media surrounding it. At first, I have to say, I was a bit intimidated to begin yoga practice myself. I did not have the flexibility it seems everyone who does yoga has. I had not stretched or been to my regular dance classes in over a year. I wasn’t sure I had the stamina, abs, or even muscles to do any of the insane poses I was seeing. It seemed so effortless to other women. There was no way I could do it. I would be too worried about how my poses looked, or that I really wasn’t cut out for it, or that I’d fall on my face!
But then I stopped, and I noticed what I was doing.
I was comparing myself to other women in a practice I hadn’t even started yet. How could I sit there staring at Instagram and tell myself that I was not as good at yoga as these countless other women when I hadn’t even tried? These were people who had practiced, learned, studied and spent countless hours working on their craft, and now they were getting to share that with other people and hopefully inspire them. It certainly inspired me.
I realized that the only failure in this yoga debacle was going to be a failure of my own. I was going to fail by not even giving it a try.
So I started small. With very little searching (cause I’m lazy!), I found a 30 day yoga challenge on Youtube. Little did I know this would be the gateway into my now consistent practice. This challenge was great for me. I’ve mentioned it before, but 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne is what got me started. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that feels really guilty when I miss a day of any sort of challenge. For some reason, I feel accountable to stick to and finish short bursts of challenges like this, so when I started this 30 day yoga challenge, I knew I would hold myself to it. Just in case though, I enlisted a friend/roommate to do it with me. It was nice to have a buddy breathing along side me and someone who was also able to hold me to it on the days I felt like slacking! This challenge was a great way to ease into a yoga practice.
At this point, I was desperate for a way to try to get back in touch with my body and my soul, whatever that meant, and finally get some relief. And to my surprise, my body was slowly waking up again to movement. Suddenly I could focus on nothing but the sensations of my body and the sound of my breath. Yoga took all my focus. It was really hard work, but it was all I could think about when I was on my mat. For the first time, my mind wasn’t wandering uncontrollably. I was present on my mat as I struggled to press my heels to the floor and lift my hips higher. But there were also days of soreness, days I absolutely dragged my feet all the way to the mat, and days I was not focused or could only think about the end of the practice. But every day, slowly, my coordination was getting better, and I was becoming familiar with the poses and sensations. I could keep my focus a little longer and my head felt a little bit clearer.
At the end of 30 days, I felt very differently about my mother’s suggestion. I had found 20-60 minutes a day that was dedicated to me and my body. It was dedicated to taking care of myself, to breathing and letting go of stress and tension, to stretching out my body, and creating space in body and mind. It was time dedicated solely to bettering myself. At the end of those 30 days, I could not see how I could continue without carving this time out for myself. Why would I go back to not taking care of myself? Why would this not be a top priority for my sanity? So much of the time we believe our time needs to be spent getting ahead, working, grinding so that we can relax later in a pile of money and security. But if you burn yourself out in the process to get there, is it worth it?
Whether you are so anxious it’s making you sick or you have mild stress each day, there is no reason you should not be taking time out to stretch and connect with and appreciate your body. They say it takes about 21 days to form a habit. So just for fun, try a 30 day challenge and see if it makes a difference. Can’t muster 30 whole days? Try a week! Try just a day! Treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you. Respect you body, and it will do it’s best to respect you!
And yes, while some of the pictures do at first intimidate me, I try to remember not to compare myself to others, but rather to what I was able to do before. Were my heels a little lower to the ground in my downward dog? Was my forward fold just a little more folded? Did my practice bring me peace? Did I focus on myself?
Try it out and see if it doesn’t bring you a little peace of mind. And if it does, I’d love to hear from you! Namaste. ❤