by Michelle Blessing
My journey into the world of yoga didn’t exactly start out in a typical fashion. Sure, I’d been curious about it for a few months, went out and bought the necessary “equipment” and an instructional video, and then – nothing. That’s not to say I didn’t try; it’s just when your children decide to use you for a human jungle gym as you’re in downward dog, it just doesn’t really work out.
So I forgot about it for a few week, until I stumbled upon a yoga deal on a website I frequent. It was in my area and offered half-price sessions. I thought, “Why not?” and bought it. So it became official – I was going to yoga class. I’d never been to an “exercise” class before, so I enlisted in a friend who was already practicing yoga to come with me and check it out.
I went to class that night with a sense of excitement and anxiety – could I handle the heat (it was a hot yoga class, by the way)? Would I fall over and make a fool of myself? Would I be able to move tomorrow? Would it relax my worried mind enough to get a good night’s sleep? The answer to those questions, ALL those questions, is a resounding yes (well, I didn’t exactly fall, but I lost my balance A LOT). The class was everything I expected and more. The instructor was friendly and happy to have new faces in front of him. My aching back felt better after the hour-long class, and for once in my life (at least for an hour), I stopped being so anxious about life.
Let me explain what it was like for me during that first class. After my initial nervousness passed and I allowed myself to fully engage in the class, I felt a sense of peace and enlightenment wash over me. It was as if every cliché about yoga I’d ever heard was true – I was able to relax, focus on myself and get in tune with what my body (and mind) needed. I left class with a spring in my step and joy in my heart. I couldn’t wait to go back and do it again.
More importantly for me, however, was the sense of peace I felt (and continue to feel) during and after yoga class. As I set my intention for class each time – which usually centers on reducing my anxiety and finding inner peace – I feel a sense of control over the worries in my life. During class, I keep my focus on ME – on my form, on the poses, on what my instructor is saying, on the music, essentially, I keep the focus on anything but what I am currently worrying about. And as I flow through the poses, I can actually sometimes feel the anxiety literally leaving my body. I start to relax, and I find by the time we reach the final pose of the day – savasana – I am left with that sense of peace I so desperately crave on a daily basis.
So, how will you know if yoga is for you? Well, you certainly won’t know unless you try it, but I’m not telling you to go spend a fortune on yoga gear only to find you really aren’t that into it. Because, truth be told, yoga isn’t for everyone, but it just might be for you. Think about what you want to get out of your practice – this is likely going to be different depending on whom you talk to. If you are looking for a more intense (not that yoga can’t be intense) workout, or if you want to focus more on the physical aspect of working out, then yoga might not be for you. But if you are looking to gain strength and flexibility of body, mind and spirit, then I suggest you give it a try. This is especially true if you are prone to worry, anxiety, depression, insomnia….yoga is likely going to give you relief from these ailments.
Since I’ve started practicing yoga, I can’t say all my worry is gone, but I know when I roll up my mat and leave that class, I feel calm and ready to face my worries. Yoga gives me the sense of power over my life I have been missing for so many years. It puts me in touch with not only the strength I currently possess, but it shows me the potential strength I have to develop. I’m not saying it saved my life, but it definitely gave my life the push to the path I needed to follow.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yogamama-co-uk/5445768199