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How Yoga Changed my Life

The meaning of the word “passion” seems to intrigue and confuse me at the same time.

I recently came to this conclusion when I was asked about it in a job interview. I, a proud (and sometimes overly-energetic) extrovert, love talking with people and answering questions about myself. Going into this interview process, I was confident that I would be a desirable candidate for this position, until I was stumped by the question, “so, Emma, what are you passionate about?”

I stopped.

What am I passionate about? I became a bit flustered for the first time throughout the 30-minute interview. I…like working out? But am I passionate about that? I like hanging out with my friends? I like to online shop and swim and drink iced Chai lattes, but I wouldn’t consider any of those my ultimate life passions.

Being passionate about something implies that there is a drive, a sense of purpose or motivation. Struggling to answer that question made me wonder what that was for me, or if I was capable of even attaining such a thing. My step mom likes to cook, but is she “passionate” about it? My boyfriend enjoys NBA basketball, but is that something he would consider a “passion?” I feel it to be a word that has its own, somewhat indescribable meaning. And I realized this when I began to practice yoga.

I’ll admit, the first time I ever practiced yoga, the whole time I was wondering when it would be over. “It’s so hot,” “how the f*ck am I supposed to do this for an hour?” and “How come everyone else is good at this except me?” were whirling around in my head. It wasn’t until my step mom became a certified instructor and dragged me to class after class that I realized how the practice works. It’s not as much about the physical asana (Sanskrit for ‘movement’) as we think it is. It’s more of a mental workout than a physical workout; a practice of breath and clearing the headspace instead of how many pushups you can do in 15 seconds. And that’s what I love about it. It’s for everyone; whether you’ve been practicing for 12 years or just bought your first mat. Whether you can hold a shoulder stand or are just trying out down dog. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you can or can’t do, if you fall down, if you want to do something totally different than what everyone else is doing. All that matters is that you’re doing what’s best for you.

This ideology, I’ve realized, is parallel with what we experience in life. Everyone is doing their own thing, and it’s super easy to look around and feel like we’re the only one who’s not getting it – not getting a promotion at work, not sticking to a new diet, not staying organized, etcetera. And sometimes, it’s really hard to redirect our focus (and our breath). But the reminder we must maintain, when we eventually come back to center, is that our focus must always be what’s best for us. Comparing our lives to others’ isn’t a productive use of energy; what’s productive is asking, ‘where am I now?’ ‘how can I better myself now?’ ‘what works for me and my lifestyle?’ Like yoga, everyone’s experience is so individual and personal. There is a sense of pride that comes with doing our own thing.

If I could go back to the day of that interview, I would change my answer completely. The practice of yoga, what it’s taught me and what I have yet to learn from it elicit a feeling and fire in me I didn’t know I had. I want everyone to be as in love with the practice as I am. I want to practice all day, all night, meet new people through it, even become an instructor one day. I want to completely immerse myself in the world of yoga. Through the last month and a half, I can confidently say that I’ve found my passion. And, although I can’t quite articulate what the word “passion” really means on paper, I can definitely identify how it feels.

Emma Saks

Cincinnati '20

Soft smile ~kween~ with a passion for writing, reading Harry Potter, and binging Broad City.
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