I’d like to go back in time to my freshman year in high school for a second today because that’s when my world was first opened up to the wonders of yoga. It wasn’t an extraordinary introduction by any means. I passed by a Beginner Yoga Kit in Target (I’m sure I was only in there for toilet paper and left with a yoga studio and a new wardrobe). The kit caught my eye because yoga was something I had heard of but wasn’t as familiar with. A simple introduction in a Target transformed this starter kit turned in to my practice for several years.
My journey through yoga started out very superficial. I wasn’t exactly sure why I liked and connected with the practice, but getting on my mat and following Rodney Yee’s cues was my routine of choice. I’ll be honest though, I struggled a little bit with yoga and my identity. I didn’t have any other friends who were in to and so this concept of yoga as mental and physical exercise was foreign to my friends and family. Some of them even judged me and claimed that I was worshipping the wrong gods if I practiced it. Yikes.
Fast forward to 2016 and I started to get a bit more serious about my flow and I attended a class at the Downtown Yoga Center in Johnson City, TN. I knew I was a fan of yoga before, but this experience really solidified things for me. It was gentle, yet empowering. Safe, but vulnerable. It truly was my saving grace.
I understand the hesitation for some religious groups to practice yoga because yoga at its core is worship. It is connection to the divine. In turn, connection to ourselves, our God, and the rest of creation. The beautiful thing about yoga is it doesn’t have to be worship to one “god” or another. It doesn’t have to be to a god at all.
It’s taught me to be in tune with every part of myself and to take control of my life by becoming my own counselor. I’ve learned that your physical body reacts to your emotional state and that our bodies are blueprints of the mind. And the beautiful part of that is once you learn to navigate that you can begin to heal and release what no longer needs to be there — which is everything that is no longer serving you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a class and broken down and cried. It’s not uncommon for a pose to bring up an emotion or memory, and when that happens I let the emotion just take over. Yoga has been my ultimate teacher in healing physical and emotional pain and helping me dive deep into what is really happening within and around me.
I’m not one to try to convince people to try yoga if they’re averse to it for some reason, but I do my best to put truth into the world so there aren’t as many misconceptions about the practice. One common misconception of meditation is that you are trying to control your thoughts but in reality it is not letting your thoughts control you.
There are so many different ways to meditate. My favorite is when I first wake up, I have a small table & cushion at my bedside window. The table has plants and crystals and malas and candles. I typically choose to sit and practice a mala meditation. Malas are prayer beads, so I practice my mala meditation by breathing deeply and reciting affirmations as my finger crosses each bead. It’s such a grounding and positive way to start the day before I let outside influences enter my energy and space.
What I love the most about yoga is that it’s your own personal journey. Your practice will look different than mine, and that’s okay. Not better or worse, simply different. It’s a journey of the self, to the self, through the self. Once you better understand and love yourself you’re better able to understand and love others.
There are some big updates coming to this space and they involve incorporating all of the things I’m passionate about. I can’t wait to share more of my bakasana loving heart.
Have you tried yoga? If so, what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear more!