What Kept Me on the Mat (Until I Actually Liked Yoga)
I started yoga because of Madonna’s arms. I was in my late teens, pretty tuned in to the world of celebrities and how they stay in shape. Despite a strong interest and participation in sports, I was feeling devastated that I might never have a personal chef and in-home trainer to keep me at my best. I knew I wouldn’t always have basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, and track coaches designing my workouts for me. Madonna’s finely toned arms, and her commitment to yoga, put me on the mat.
But I didn’t like it.
I was that athlete– the fast-paced person who resented slowing down, holding poses, staying still and quiet. So I would try, then give it up, then notice Madonna’s arms, again. Then try again. Then give it up. Again.
Now I’m a yoga teacher, so obviously something clicked somewhere along the way. These are the things that kept me on the mat until I fell in love with it.
Child’s Pose and Savasana
During college, I was teaching a 7:00am indoor cycling class; I got myself up an hour earlier to attend the 6:00am yoga class. I was no longer competing in sports, but I still hadn’t realized that a racing mind was something worth ditching. I struggled through the long holds (boring!), looking forward to child’s pose and, finally, savasana when I could lie down and get a glimpse of the rest I had left in my bed. I was hooked on savasana long before I got hooked on the rest of yoga.
Progress (Without Trying to Make Progress)
I was keeping busy with a variety of fitness endeavors, so I felt like my strength and flexibility were where they needed to be for yoga. Therefore, it surprised and delighted me when I started noticing improvements in my physical practice. It didn’t take that long, either. Within a few weeks, it was easier to hold my downward dogs and warriors. I found myself sinking deeper, improving without even realizing I was trying to.
As the teacher adjusted my poses, I became aware of my body in a way I never had before. I marveled at it, and wished I known it so well when I was still high jumping and attempting back handsprings.
(Even years after this original awakening, I am still learning about my body every single time I get on the mat. It never ends. In a good way.)
The realization that I was becoming a patient person was my first awareness of the other benefits yoga brings to your life. Not only did I have the patience to hold through a long high lunge, but I didn’t really mind waiting in line, either. I knew instinctively that yoga was responsible for this development. If yoga could do that, what else could it do?
And that did it. I was in.
All those things still make me want to practice, but there are many others now, as well. I tell my new yoga students to try multiple classes with different teachers before forming an opinion about yoga. I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I hadn’t been so stubborn about making yoga work for me, and finding those things to appreciate along the way.
Did you like yoga after your first class? Did you stick with it anyway long enough to fall in love?