During this past fall semester, my dear friend Sarah Scheurer began explaining her new workout regimen to me while walking to A Quad. It incorporated a mix of pilates, traditional gym workouts, and on one day of the week, she started going to yoga class. When she mentioned yoga, I immediately asked if I would be able to join her and was instantly excited about returning to the mat.
I first began practicing yoga in high school after one of my volleyball coaches added a little mini yoga session to the end of one of our practices. I really enjoyed doing the yoga at volleyball and it did help me relax at the end of a tough workout. However, the moment I first witnessed the power of yoga happened in the middle of winter on the concrete floor of my basement (I know, super comfortable). I went down to the basement to run on the treadmill to clear my mind and ease my nerves, but I could not stop thinking about my first-ever job interview that was fast approaching. I started getting anxious, as I often do, and did not know how to calm myself down. For whatever reason, I suddenly remembered hearing that yoga was helpful in calming people with anxiety so I shut off the treadmill and headed over to an old (kinda dirty) mat on the concrete floor. I slowly whipped out some of the moves I learned during our little mini yoga session at volleyball and I came away feeling uplifted and surprised about how calm I suddenly felt.
But after this experience, I did not have a regular class to attend and online yoga videos were not working for me, so it became difficult to keep up the same yoga magic I felt the first time around. When Sarah brought up yoga, I was excited for the opportunity to return back to the mat and have a real-life yoga teacher. Little did I know that Denison’s Yoga Club teacher is the BEST teacher I could ever ask for. Insert Jen: yogi, goddess, and all-around badass. Through her practices, she offers her students a safe space to move their bodies without judgment, choice in the shapes they choose to take (or not), and several key mantras that have stuck with me over the course of this year. With that being said, I want to share some of those mantras with you:
“It is what it is and I’m fine with that.” – When I first heard Jen say this phrase I was having a rough day, but hearing those words changed everything. I realized that it is okay to accept the way things are in the current moment. I do not need to be unhappy with things or try to change them, but to just be content with my current physical and mental state as it is.
“This is how it is right now.” – While this mantra is similar to the previous one, it also reminds us that the way things are in the current moment are not the way they are always going to be. If you are having a rough day or are not happy with the way you are feeling, this phrase should give you hope that these feelings will not last forever. Things are always changing.
“It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.” – This phrase is self-explanatory but is something we all need to be reminded of, whether it’s at yoga, the gym, or out on a Saturday night.
“Stay curious.” – This has helped me make the biggest mindset shift I have made from yoga thus far. Rather than always fearing the worst when entering an unfamiliar or undesirable situation, tell yourself to stay curious and to just see what happens. It doesn’t matter if it ends up being good or bad, just stay curious about what it might be. Trust me and give this one a try, it really helps.
“Ooooopen up.” – If you’ve taken yoga at Denison you can probably hear Jen’s voice saying this phrase in your head, especially since it’s one she says a lot. Whether it’s opening your chest, shoulders, or heart, openness is one of the most freeing feelings you can experience in yoga. As the typical Cancerian that I am, I tend to shrink back into my little crab shell and close off to prevent myself from getting hurt. This phrase reminds me that it’s okay to come out of that shell, be vulnerable, and open myself up because it feels good to do that, even if it’s scary.
If you are interested in attending Yoga Club, practice is every Monday & Wednesday from 4:45-5:45 in the Knapp Performance Space in the basement of Knapp Hall. Mats are provided and no experience is necessary.
Namaste, my friends