The First Yoga Class I Didn't Hate
Physical fitness has always been important to me. I started swimming competitively at a young age and then as a teen concerned with my weight, I started exercising obsessively, mostly in the form of running (which I hated) and aerobics classes (which I didn’t). While I enjoyed the camaraderie of group exercise, I detested stretching with the group at the end because I was SO inflexible it embarrassed me. Even worse, as a physical therapist I knew that my tight muscles would be make me injury-prone, and so in my mid twenties I decided to try yoga for the first time, “to improve my flexibility”.
I have to be honest. I HATED YOGA.
The tight, body-conscious clothes. The heated room. The unfamiliar music. Words spoken in a foreign language. Confident yogis in the front of the room doing poses I would never in my life attempt much less perfect.
I’ve never been one to give up easily. I tried different studios and different teachers. I always left with the same feeling: this shit wasn’t for me.
EXCEPT. Every time I suffered through a yoga class, I had to admit that I felt physically--and mentally--better. The anxiety that resided in my chest as faithfully as my beating heart wasn’t so pronounced. I felt calmer, more focused and able to tackle the tasks of the day ahead. It’s why I kept going back even though nothing else about the practice connected with me.
In 2015 I finally broke up with chronic dieting and over exercising and for the sake of my mental health I took an entire year off from the gym. In 2016 I joined a new health club, mostly because it offered child care and had a great pool. Just looking at the gym equipment I’d wasted untold hours of my life on made me feel despair and so I decided to try yoga yet again in March of 2016.
And this time? It didn’t suck.
The teacher was welcoming and cool. His themes were relatable and gave me fresh perspective on challenges I was facing in my real life. He taught to every student regardless of level and helped me feel successful the very first class. He played music I’d heard before. It was actually fun. I started attending his classes regularly.
To my delight, with consistent practice I was able to enjoy that calm and peaceful feeling long after I left my mat. And as a secondary benefit, my physical strength and flexibility also improved.
Haven’t found *your* teacher or class? Let me introduce you to the powers of this practice.
I promise you won’t hate it.