What happened when I finally started to practice yoga.
I put off doing yoga for YEARS. I knew I should be doing something to help lower my stress levels and become stronger. But I was intimidated by the gorgeous yoga people I see on Instagram, and had visions of doing misaligned faceplants instead of elegant downward dogs.
Then, last summer, a friend of mine did her yoga training and was looking for people to practice with her. Once she assured me it really and truly was for beginners, and that she wouldn’t point and laugh at my absolute ignorance, I reluctantly agreed to join.
Since her practice was in her karate dojo and not a studio, it felt really down to earth for me—and far less likely that I (with my imperfect body and zero knowledge)—would have to confront anything uncomfortable… like judgment. From July to November, every Sunday morning, I showed up to that almost empty dojo and learned some of the basics. Even the breathing was new!
In November, five months after I’d been doing the most basic once a week practice, a very fancy studio started up in the building where I work, and an old colleague was the operations manager. So, after a few months of more solitary practice, I joined a “real” studio. My fears of judgment were unfounded because I soon realized that even in the larger studio, nobody cared what I was doing (except the very helpful but non-judgmental instructors)—because the focus is all inwards. I could just do my own practice and be focused on my own growth.
Fast forward to today—it’s been exactly a year since I tentatively stepped into that dojo for my first yoga practice. I now go 3-4 times a week. My partner does, too. In fact, two of our four boys (the 15 and 16 year-olds) have ALSO started coming to yoga. I made them go the very first time, but now, on their own, they often set their alarms to wake up before 6 am to practice with us. They ride their bikes to the studio, do 6:30-7:30 am yoga, and then, while we stay downtown and head to work, they ride home and get ready for school.
I’m so grateful that they might be learning things that took me until now to start to know—things like being present, about how to breathe through discomfort, about resetting and relaxing, about focusing on their own improvement rather than comparing themselves to others, about investing in themselves.
The other day, after trying a new move, I asked one of the strong yoga women beside me how long it took her to do master it. She smiled and said, “Nine years.” NINE! One of the others piped up and said it took her twelve. So this is for the long haul. It’s going to be a lifelong practice. And I’m just so glad I finally started.
Here’s my two cents for those of you who have been thinking about yoga but are apprehensive:
- Just start. Sign up for practice so you can’t back out!
- Start slowly—once a week is amazing and you’ll probably feel a difference (mentally, physically, or both) after several weeks.
- Find a space you’re really comfortable in and an instructor you trust.
- Don’t think of the practice as a discrete “class”… it’s a lifelong practice to improve yourself.
- Keep the focus inwards—don’t compare to anyone else—your time on the mat is the time for you.
If you want to read more about the health and wellness benefits of yoga for kids, check out our blog.