Okay, so I didn’t actually do yoga every single day for an entire year. Although that’s not impossible it would be ridiculously impressive and take a lot of discipline. But I did start doing “research” and by research I mean doing yoga every day, for the my article “I did hot yoga every day for 30 days and this is what happened” exactly a year ago in February of 2017. It’s hard to believe that a practice which means so much to me in this present moment, and something that is such a big part of my life and my future, only began a year ago.
It’s incredible to have seen the transformation in myself both mentally and physically that has taken place over the last twelve months. I have gone from being afraid to let myself go all out at a Vinyasa class, all the way to practicing Ashtanga yoga in Spanish (yes, the classes were taught in the language of Spanish) while studying abroad in Barcelona over the Summer. I’ve even made a sort of part time career for myself through discovering my love of yoga… But let me start from the beginning.
I’ve always dealt with issues of anxiety and perfectionism. Add onto that to the extremely competitive pressure cooker of an environment like Cal Poly and you’ve got a stress ball on your hands. I am able to go for a run or do other forms of exercise in order to combat the feelings of stress that I feel, but it was not until February 17, 2017, that I would find my true calling and walk into the hot yoga studio in San Luis Obispo where I would find my true home.
Fast forward to a year to the present moment and I work there at that magical studio now. Yes, I get to spend hours a week in a place that I FOUND my place, where I love and practice yoga in a community which is incredibly strong and accepting and even get paid for it! And for that, I am so grateful. Never did I guess when I stepped into Rielly’s vinyasa class with my roommate on that Friday afternoon last year that I would be taking the exact same class with her a year later in a whole new mind space.
I am in love with the practice of yoga because it gives me the opportunity to completely disconnect with the outside world while connecting with myself more deeply than I could personally do in any other space. There are no words to describe how you feel when you’re in one of Liz’s Vinyasa classes and you can finally do an advanced pose for the first time, one that you’ve been slowly working toward for months. She reminds the class that there is always room for growth which is why it’s called a yoga “practice,” and that yoga puts you back into your place, forces you to be humble. Because you can always get better. But you’re still elated that you can finally do “mermaid” pose after not even being able to touch your hands to your toes a year ago.
That second day that I walked into the studio a year ago and KJ told us not to be too hard on ourselves, that message spoke to me. And now with her as someone I consider a good friend, she told me that same message over a coffee date last week too.
On day 19 when I was able to rise into birds of paradise for the first time? Well, that’s still an impressive pose at any level. But I can actually do it like, for real right now….
On day 24 when I took Robyn’s class for the first time and she walked into the studio sipping on coffee and making me realize that I don’t have to survive solely off of kombucha and kale to be a true yogi? Well, I still love hearing her stories about how her and her boyfriend dressed up as pizza and a milkshake for Halloween. Yoga teachers are real people too and I’m still very interested in getting my certification when the time is right.
I know that I still have a while to go in my practice… For example, on Day 28 we talked about detachment and being able to let go of negative emotions. That’s still something extremely present in my life which I’m working on a year later. It’s an ongoing challenging for me to find the ability to detach and let go from things which don’t serve me both in and out of the studio.
Doing yoga requires an amount of balance and concentration which does truly take an incredible amount of time and practice to achieve. It gives me an escape from life for an hour a day and gives me a reminder to stay balanced when I’m on and off the mat. I know that I’m only one year into my yoga journey and I cannot wait to see what amazing things are in store for me in the future. I connect with myself in new and inspiring ways every single day. And THAT is what brings me back to the mat every single day a year later (on a mat which is slightly nicer than the 8 dollar one from a department store that I started out with last year).
You have to learn to let go of yourself and everything that you’re worried, like your own expectations, and have a positive mindset when you’re practicing. You also have to realize that your body can feel different from day by day. Some days I can get into poses that other days I can’t, depending on what kind of exercise I did the day before which can affect how tight my muscles are.
A year ago I wrote that the lessons that I took away from my solid month of every day hot yoga was 1) always stay hydrated 2) listen to your body and 3) challenge yourself safely. This is still very true advice to take no matter where in your practice that you are. Yoga makes me feel grounded. Yoga makes me feel strong. Yoga gives me a spiritual connection with the universe inside my mind, that I can appreciate just as much as I appreciate the way that it builds me to be stronger physically on the outside of my mind. Yoga for me is not just an exercise, but an experience.
Overall, I hope that this article and my first piece will inspire you to try yoga for yourself and have your own positive life changing experience.