For those of you that follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you my have noticed a shift in my pictures and posts. I’ve fallen in love with YOGA. Not just any yoga, MY version of yoga.
I’ve always been interested in yoga, but, and I’m being brutally honest here, it bored the hell out of me. In high school I asked for a yoga starter kit for Christmas because the practice fascinated me and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to learn how to control my breathing and quiet my mind. I loved the idea that just a half hour on the mat could make me a more calm, centered, and patient person.
Yet that starter kit? SNOOOOOOZE. It was pretty nice… It came with a yoga ball, mat, resistance bands, yoga blocks, starter booklet, and hour-long DVD on Hatha yoga. I’ve since convinced my mom to swap my ball with her nice weighted ball, and I no longer reference that DVD or booklet, but that mat,blocks, and resistance bands I use daily now. I took that starter kit to college and would practice in my dorm room freshman year. I noticed my flexibility increase, but an hour of slow yoga poses just wasn’t my thing. So I gave up the practice, only doing yoga after runs or the basic sun salutations in the morning.
This year something happened. I was sitting in my one-bedroom apartment, all alone one night. I was contemplating my life and all of the little random things I’ve wanted to accomplish but never could. I thought about what might have been if my elementary school had a gymnastics team like I had longed for, or if I was only a tad more flexible. I remember thinking how I always loved the idea of balancing on my head, and how when I was younger I used to do it all the time, but just stopped. I remember practicing handstands in my basement when I was younger, trying to find that balance, but not knowing the steps to get me there. How I wanted to start practicing yoga more regularly instead of on and off whenever I felt like it. Every year one of my New Years Resolutions was to practice more yoga, yet every year I would get bored with it.
THEN, as I sat on my mini couch, the present day me did what present day people do. I followed a yogi on Instagram. Then I followed another. Then I followed like 30…. Then, I found two yogini’s whose practices awed me – Steph Gongora and Erin Kelly. Dare I say it – I fell in love right there! They opened my eyes to the fact that yoga doesn’t have to be a cut and dry practice! There are so many types of yoga practices, and there is no right or wrong way to do yoga.
Now, those two yogi’s who opened my mind and heart to this world? They are basically inversion experts! I realized that the yoga I’ve been longing for all these years was right under my nose! In fact, it’s right on my hands! Literally! Yoga inversions and yoga flows…. I found that I’m drawn more towards Vinyasa yoga than all the others, but to be honest, my version of yoga seems to blend all of these! As I’m sure many people’s personal practices do.
I’m not doing this because yoga is the next big thing, to impress my friends, or to say I’ve done it. No, I’m doing this for ME. Because ever since I can remember I’ve been attempting handstands in my parent’s basement and doing headstands just for fun. Not regularly, but for fun. Now, I’m doing it on a regular basis because I realized that:
- I’m an extremely restless person, and yoga just seems to swallow that excess energy.
- I’m a lover of life-long learning, and I adore improving and seeing how my body and muscles adjust to new poses and exercises.
- I need a creative outlet, and moving my body has become that outlet for me, aside from blogging, of course.
- I thrive off of a challenge. Inversions? Hard as sh**! Gahh, how I love that!
- Yoga in itself is beautiful. It’s graceful. It’s everything I long to be. When those yogini’s press up in their handstand presses, it’s like they are floating effortlessly! I WANT THAT. I want to feel that and become that.
- I don’t live in the city or live around my friends. I am gone 12 hours out of the day and don’t have time for specialty yoga classes. I often work two jobs in the summer, so if I want to learn, it’s all about home practice! Doing my homework and practicing, practicing, practicing. Studying techniques, studying poses… that’s all I can do!
The take away for all you yogi dreamers out there:
Yoga isn’t about how long you can hold a pose, how deep you can get into a pose, how long you can stand on your hands, or even how fancy your flows are. Whether you do it for the meditation, the strength building, the flexibility, or for the nice butt, you are working towards a goal. One of the purposes of yoga, as with any sport, is to better yourself. You want to be better than the person you were yesterday. If you can master your breathing and quiet your mind in the process? Even better!
Now ask yourself if you are taking the necessary steps to reach your goals.
My yoga practice has drastically improved the last couple months. Why? Because of just that: practice and determination. I believe in myself, and I know I can eventually master anything I put my mind to as long as I have the will-power, patience, and work ethic to get myself there. And I am nowhere near flexible! My hamstrings are tight, my back is as stiff as boards, my shoulders don’t like to fully extend, and my face is uuuugly when I’m upside down. I can’t master the handstand press, but GOSH DARN IT, I’m trying!
And you can do it too! Think that backbend is too out of reach? Think you’ll always have to bend your legs during downward dog? Doesn’t matter. Practice. Practice every night, for an hour or more. Practice for 10 minutes a day! Whatever you can manage. You’ll make more progress than you ever imagined you could!
Never feel like your yoga practice has to fit into a certain mold. Every body is different and has different capabilities, and that’s OKAY! It’s all about what YOU want, what makes you feel the best, and what makes you the happiest.
And most importantly, when all is said and done, you should be proud of yourself. You’ll probably learn that you’re stronger than you think you are, you are mentally fit, and you are worthy and capable of reaching your goals.
So get at it dreamer. Whatever your yoga practice is, whatever type of yogi you are, you are YOU! That in itself is beautiful!