I have tried to get into yoga for years. In college, I added it to my “to-do” list and signed up for weekly classes on Monday nights. They were in a big room with slick hardwood floors and a wide mirror that laughed at me when I couldn’t get the pose right, the girl next to me a bendy earthworm on the mat. I would spend 60 minutes stretching my legs and wishing for flexibility that wasn’t there yet, furious when the instructor pushed the small of my back into a place my body wasn’t ready for yet. I sneaked glances at the white-faced clock with black numbers and a thin red second hand, eager for the moment when “self-care” was complete and I could get back to homework. I was checking off my me-time, not actually enjoying it. Yoga was a chore. I only did that for one semester.
Post-graduation, I downloaded an app for Daily Yoga and developed a sporadic routine of following the robotic instructions for 10-15 minutes every few days. I couldn’t find peace with it and finished feeling no different than when I began. Actually, I always finished frustrated that I “wasn’t doing yoga right.” I didn’t realize yet that there is no wrong way to do yoga.
A couple of months later, I was in a place that wasn’t okay anymore. I figured the one thing that would force me to commit to yoga would be spending money. So I bought a Groupon for a bunch of classes at a local studio, packing my mat and wearing running clothes.
At the first class, the instructor really connected with me, teaching in the span of one hour that yoga was not something to be rushed. I fell in love with it then, because I was at a time in my life where every moment, every phase, every day was a waterfall of needs and the next thing. To have someone say, “If it is not available to you, then don’t do it,” was the most impactful thing I had heard in months. I had been doing so many things unavailable to me, forcing them to become accessible even when I wasn’t ready to reach them. I was exhausted, and I needed to learn how to support myself in the moments of chaos and confusion that littered my everyday. “Come into stillness,” she said, and I realized my spirit was turbulent and wild, rocking every day in waves begging for the storm to cease. I realized yoga could be the start to smoothing some ripples and clearing clouds.
I went to a few more classes there before moving, but once I moved it was inconvenient to keep going. I was on a tighter budget now, so paying for yoga was pretty much out of the question. I needed to find a way to hold on to the stillness, so I scoured the Internet and found Yoga with Adriene. I started practicing, beginning with Gentle Morning Yoga practices before graduating to Vinyasas and more advanced sequences. I can honestly say I love Downward Dog now. I also find great comfort in Warrior One, Pigeon Pose, Supine Twist, and Sun Salute.
I never thought I would be someone to truly enjoy yoga. I used to drive my grandparents crazy as I drummed my fingertips on the kitchen table. My mother always begs me to stop shaking my foot, saying that I am making her nervous. My boyfriend puts his hand on my knee when I move my leg up and down in the car. “Why can’t you just sit still?” he says, frustrated.
I have never been able to sit still before. But now, after two solid months of practicing every single day, I am capable of sitting without doing anything but breathing. I move with control and purpose, not chaos and anxiety. I actually put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” during yoga. This may seem like a small act, but trust me — that was not an easy habit to form.
It’s interesting how hard I had to work to relax. Sitting still shouldn’t have been that difficult, but for me, it is a hurdle I have faced for my entire life. Being in a good place now doesn’t mean I don’t wake up with hurdles in front of me every single day. I do. But I have enough strength to jump over them now, landing on two feet without shaking.