I've always been a bit touchy-feely. It goes back to Ms.Tyson's first grade class where we learned about warm fuzzies and cold pricklies. I think one of those warm fuzzies she had made out of pom poms and little googly eyes grabbed hold of my soul, burrowed itself way down deep inside, built a nest, and still resides in there today. I also think I have a little bit of hippie in me, though I'm not sure where that comes from because neither of my parents were into that, and they are slightly mortified whenever I summon my inner flower child. Anyhow, when I stumbled upon yoga last summer I was hooked after my first vinyasa flow, led by the dear, beautiful, amazing Lisa Flynn at Dance Stop Studios. Funny story, at the end of my first yoga session (which wasn't even a true class, mind you, rather a 30 minute demo,) I cried. Like, big fat tears streaming down my face when I came out of savasana. I wasn't sure what to think; on one hand I was mortified that everyone was staring at me and I couldn't make the tears stop, and on the other hand it felt so darn GOOD. I felt like someone had taken a syphon and sucked all the stress and worries and negative energy out of my body. I felt CLEAN. So, I went back. I continue to go. I've tried a few types of classes (both beginner and intermediate) with Lisa and the incredible Kathy Carroll, and now I'm trying a hot yoga class at Be Yoga with the inspiring Isabelle Casey.
Even in the short few months I've been practicing, yoga has changed my life. No, seriously, it has. It has made me more patient with my son. It has made me friends - who knew the yoga community was so tight-knit, warm and welcoming? It has made me realize that my body can do things I never imagined it capable of doing, including entering a state of complete and total relaxation (hello, bliss!), and it has most DEFINITELY made me a better runner. When I first heard the term "hip openers" I giggled like a 15 year old girl, but I've come to adore them. Painful as pigeon pose may be, it's my go-to remedy for tight hips and glutes from running. And it works, every time.
Pigeon Pose, courtesy of yogijen:
The physical benefits of yoga are astounding; each time I practice, I feel like I've taken a year off my life. For real. But the mental, spiritual, emotional, soulful, touchy-feely benefits outweigh any warm fuzzy I've ever felt. No matter how many people are in the class, once I get into the mindset, it's just me and the mat. For 75 minutes I focus so intently on my breathing and my body, and try my hardest to get OUT of my head. At the end I truly feel like I've entered a state of nirvana. After the class is over, I wrap that warm, fuzzy feeling around me like the softest, coziest sweater and try to wear it every day until I practice again. Added bonus: the sweater feels a little baggy now, thanks to the body sculpting power of yoga, too!
My beloved instructor Lisa once gave everyone in her class a handout with a compilation of quotes (courtesy of Lululemon, sprinkled with thoughts from herself and her family) about yoga, and this is one of my favorites: "Yoga allows me to come back to myself. No matter how I hit my mat, I leave a better version of me." That's what it's all about, folks.