My first yoga experience was more or less by accident. The year was 2011—cue the flashback moment with the fog and such—and I had purchased a lovely Groupon that gave me 10 classes for some absurdly low price like $25. I rushed home from work that fateful Tuesday, put on my yoga pants, and was off to figure out how to get to the studio.

I didn’t exactly have a smooth first time. My first road block was I didn’t own a yoga mat. But alas, I was able to borrow one for a dollar, fantastic! Crisis averted, or so I thought. Number two, this turned out to be a HOT YOGA CLASS. This was no regular sweaty yoga; this was a room heated to 100-113 degrees of sweat-inducing goodness, which leads me to problems three and four. Problem number three, I HAD NO WATER. I was parched for 90 minutes. Agua-less. A cactus. And problem four, um… heat causes sweat, sweat causes my hands to slide off a mat, sliding causes face planting. It was awkward.

My first class was plain nuts. I was a hot, sweaty, awkward, uncoordinated mess. And yet, it was amazing. I, for some unknowable reason, was hooked. Twice a week for a year, I showed up and got my asana kicked. I had to make some changes if I wanted to keep up…

I started by buying my own yoga mat. Okay, it was $12 from Amazon but hey, whatever, it was mine. And alright, I took an old peach-colored bath towel (that was NOWHERE NEAR the same shape/size of my yoga mat) to avoid sliding. And I came up with this ingenious system of two water bottles. One cold, one frozen. You drink the cold one first, then by the time you need the second bottle, its melted and SUPER COLD. I had gotten my system down, and it fueled my new passion.

Over time, I got more and more comfortable with putting myself in awkward poses. I started learning the weird words, the Sanskrit, knowing when to sit back into that invisible chair, or when to make butterfly legs. I started to notice more about myself, more introspection, more “Oh crap, why is she better at warrior II than me? Wait. What does it matter? Why do I care? Snap out of it, Ashley.” I began to look forward to savasana at the end of class, to the thanking each other for sharing our practice. Another cool part? Instead of “namaste,” we said an Egpytian word: “hotep”. My instructor would say, “we aren’t Indian; here, we say Hotep.” Alright, that’s cool with me, sounds fancy. I felt unique.

It was my first eye-opening experience into yoga and I jumped head first into everything with and open mind. Five years later, I’m a certified teacher who hopes to one day be someone else’s first yoga story and the world keeps turning.

Over to you! What was your first time like?