I started doing yoga in 2014 because my then husband told me I had to be more active.
Having been injured in the Army, I wasn't going to do anything high intensity – I hate running and I'm not a fan of burpees (they are the devil, I'm certain). I worked a high stress corporate job so I had back issues from sitting all day and stress levels from all the bullshit that corporate jobs bring. Yoga offered me a few things I needed – to open up physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So, I started. And I haven't stopped.
Yoga taught me that there's no such thing as "can't." It taught me how to be patient with myself. It taught me how to get back to me. Yoga taught me to breathe again. Yes, I breathe everyday, we all do. But there is a difference in breathing the shallow breaths we breathe everyday due to stress and anxiety and taking a moment to really breathe. Take a second right now – breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed and fill your entire body and then exhale through your nose, mouth closed. Do that a couple of times. That in itself is pranayama. It's yoga. Teaching you how to breathe and open your soul up, as well as your body.
Once you get started, keeping it going is easier than you might think. Through the months and years I've been doing it, so many of my friends have come to me, "Girl I need to get like you. I've been wanting to try yoga but (insert reason they can't do it here)." Yoga has been transformative to my life and spirit and I wholeheartedly believe it's something that anyone could embrace, despite the misperceptions surrounding it. Below, I debunk some of the most common misconceptions out there about yoga practice.
I can't afford going to the yoga studio.
I started at home and after four years, STILL have a home practice. I started out with 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, and now try to do at least 45 minutes to one hour. I found yoga teachers/channels that I like and discover new ones everyday. Some of my favorites are: Cole Chance yoga, Flow with Adee, Yoga with Adriene, Leslie Fightmaster, and Yoga by Candace. If you can't find a specific yoga teacher, you can always type in "beginner yoga" or "gentle yoga," and find classes/teachers that are more your pace. All for free.
I don't have time/anyone to watch my kids.
With a home practice, you can make the time and don't need childcare. You may have to get up a little earlier in the morning or go to bed a little later; however, as with anything else, if you are committed to doing something, you will make the time. There are online yoga practices as short as five minutes long. Even if you feel you don't have time, you can always take five minutes for yourself.
I have (insert injury/illness here).
You're always going to want to consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen; however, there aren't that many ailments that you can't do with yoga or that yoga won't alleviate. Many physical, mental, and emotional issues that you have are caused by busy lifestyles, including sitting at a desk 8-12 hours per day (back issues, stress, depression), or being on your feet all day (arthritis, foot pain, stress). You can find yoga practices that cater specifically to your needs: "Yoga for office workers" for example, or your specific ailment. There are plenty tutorials and practices out there for stress and depression, arthritis, digestive issues, heart issues, etc. Yoga isn't just for fat burning or belly/ab work, although it can do that. No matter your situation, yoga is flexible enough (see what I did there?) to meet your needs.
Girl, I am NOT a pretzel/I can't do that.
Girl, yes you can. You are always encouraged to go at YOUR pace. It doesn't matter what the teacher is doing. You can't touch your toes? Don't worry about that – go as far as YOU can but just keep going. If you are consistent, you will see over time that you are able to do a little more than before. One day, you might be a pretzel and didn't even realize you got there. Or maybe you'll never be one but you will still be able to reap the rewards of having a more open body and mind. The little victories – being able to touch your toes, alleviating your back pain before/after work, sleeping better, feeling good about yourself for accomplishing your goals – are just as important as the big ones (i.e. getting a promotion, winning the lottery, finding that perfect man). Either way, you're winning.
With all of this being said, let me be the first to tell you I'm not perfect.
Some days, I don't want to do yoga and don't. Sometimes for days. But I always come back to my mat because that is where I find my peace and reset my pace. I have never finished a yoga practice and regretted it, and that motivates me to continue to cultivate my practice on a daily basis. Eventually, I want to become certified to teach yoga, as I do see an opportunity for more women of color to be present/in the forefront of the opportunities yoga affords. However, I am comforted in the fact that yoga sees no race, gender, religion, creed, etc.
It isn't about who is next to, or in front of me – it's about me. It's about that moment where I take my deepest breath of the day and remember who I am – strong, confident, beautiful, love. In that moment, I am living my best life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
Featured image by bruce mars on Unsplash