The search for a new niche all started when my professional dancing career ended. I was eager to find a replacement that worked multiple muscle groups simultaneously. I wanted to attain optimal results in the shortest amount of time, while completely avoiding the gym. My relationship with gym memberships has been a love/hate one at best, but at the core of my struggle, was a strong disbelief that I’d find something as fulfilling (and quite frankly would kick my ass) as dancing had. My experience in witnessing expired dancers revealed that I would end up relearning everything about my body through a lack luster gym routine. Then I stumbled upon Bikram Yoga. I was extremely excited to start since I had heard that the room was heated (great for injuries!) and that flexibility was an asset.
Now let’s fast forward to the first class.
Life Lesson #1 – Trying something new while entertaining a large ego results in a healthy dose of humility.
“Heated” was an understatement. Between the tickling sweat in every square inch of my comparatively “not so in shape anymore” body, the smell (almost like something or someone was rotting…it may have been me), and trying to follow the poses (since everyone got the yoga poses memo prior to class except me), yoga and I were not off to a great start. I was accustomed to annihilating first attempts at flexibility and strength routines, and now I was contemplating whether or not I’d even finish the 90 minutes. I had heard yoga was a spiritual experience and that part I agreed with. I was in “full on prayer mode” that I wouldn’t suffocate before I removed myself, vowing never to return again. Then, as fate would have it, something extraordinary happened during my escape. A rush of fresh air saturated my lungs and my entire body felt more cleansed and rejuvenated than ever before.
Life Lesson #2 – “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” should be practiced regularly.
Since I’d already paid for the unlimited first week, I figured I should give yoga a few more attempts before I completely threw in the towel. I decided to give it the old college try and attend a class daily for my eight day trial period. What was the result? I was confounded by how my injuries had improved in only one week. It was like opening Pandora’s Box of positive changes. My flexibility, lung capacity and strength had all noticeably increased. Not to mention the changes to my metabolism, hormones (or “horrormones” as I like to refer to them), and sleep patterns.
Life Lesson #3 – Acclimating to change takes approximately a week of consistency.
It’s hard to imagine that in one short week there was unequivocal proof that the lifestyle I was previously leading needed to change. I was thrilled by how quickly my overall wellness changed and was determined to continue on this new found path. It was herein that the challenge to have the best class started. I cleaned up my diet, adjusted my vitamin plan, and tried to drink my weight in water a day. I could dictate how balanced my day was based on the strength of my yoga classes.
Every aspect of how I lead my life has changed due to the integration of different yoga philosophies. In class, we are taught to draw awareness to the body, our thoughts, and our breath. This practice has served me in many areas, but specifically with regards to stress management (but that’s another story!). The culture of yoga has empowered me to practice vulnerability as I enter each class. Regardless of how my day unfolded, I have the power to set the intention as to how I want to feel after the class is completed. So if you are on the fence as to whether or not yoga is for you, let me assure you that you are not alone. My recommendation would be to lean on a friend who has a regular yoga practice. Have them assist you in doing a few poses at home so you may grow accustomed to the movement. Or you can do as I did and dive in head first! Either way, I am 100% convicted that yoga is for everyone. Who knew that by enduring a wretched primary yoga class that the studio would once again become my place of total peace and harmony.