What brought me to yoga?
At 45-years-old when I stood up to walk to the kitchen, I had to stand in place for a few moments to allow the blood to flow to my legs, and even then I could only manage to limp to the fridge. I had to do something. Yoga was the answer for me.
However, I think the better question is what keeps me going to yoga?
Yoga has benefited me in several ways.
When I came to my mat, I didn’t realize what I was in for besides the flowing of poses and twisting of the body. I am a very emotional person. I can be very anxious. And even though I smile often, joke around more than I should and laugh loud, I waiver on the edge of depression. There was a lot of fear, sadness, doubt and anger bottled up inside of me, covered by false confidence.
The first few months of going to yoga, I would find myself crying after every session while in Shavasana. I didn’t know what was happening, and I thought my trainer must think I am a mess, but they never said anything. They would place the cold, wet oil infused cloth on my head and then smile at me later as I walked out. But what I slowly started to realize is that I was releasing all of those emotions. And every time I would come to my mat, I felt them less and less. This has helped me in my work life as well. Now when I am in meeting starting to feel frustrated, I find myself taking a deep breath and then letting it go. My whole attitude can change from just a breath.
At first, I was nervous, but that soon faded away as I discovered that the mat was my safe zone. This was very important to me as I am (or was) a little overweight. At the time didn’t feel comfortable in my yoga wear around many people. Especially people I didn’t know. However, instead of finding people staring, laughing, or talking about me, I found a tribe of people to encourage me. My fellow yogis and I are always cheering each other on. We show each other different ways to get into poses, yelling “You can do it,” “You got this,” or “Get out of your head!” I have found a community of people who want you to come as you are. They will love you in the place where you are. I cherish the many new and unique friendships I have formed in yoga and will carry many of them for the rest of my life.
Now, of course, I eventually got the benefit of being able to stand up and go straight for the glass of water without having to stand in place for a few moments. It did not take long. However, the most important thing that has happened to me in my yoga practice has to do with my spirituality. I was concerned about this before going. I am a Christian. I hate religion, but I love God. I didn’t know how yoga would fit into my beliefs and my relationship with God. I was relieved when I walked into a studio that didn’t have any religious statues, mine or anyone else’s. Just the same, for me, God showed up. While in practice, whether in meditation, a revival session, or in the Shavasana at the end of class, I have clearly heard from God. Not every time, but always on time. Sometimes just one word, sometimes a sentence, but I never doubt where it came from. It’s always an answer to a prayer that I had been searching for.
Yoga always makes me feel better. Once my practice is finished, I leave better than when I came. All the stress of my day is gone and I can go on to a better day. Of course, if I accomplish a personal goal, I feel even better. But even if I feel I didn’t do well that day and spent a lot of time in child’s pose, I still leave better than before I came to my mat.
Yoga has helped me physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. These are the reasons I keep coming to yoga and will continue to come to my mat.