At the beginning of 2016, I set a goal to do yoga on a consistent basis. As a mom of three, I wasn’t sure how I was going to navigate it, but I wanted to at least try. And if I hated it, then I hated it.
But I loved it. Still love it.
I’m not a fanatic. The past few months I haven’t been practicing as regularly, in fact. But it has truly changed aspects of my life. Which sounds weird, doesn’t it? Yoga changed your life? Are you a hippie, Janelle?
I mean, not yet anyway. I’m not eating a clean diet either, if that makes you feel better.
I want to share with you all the what, the why, the how’s of yoga for me. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about it, say something to me about, or ask me to be their teacher (you know who you are), and can I just say, all the praise hands for that. Dare I say I have a passion for yoga? Yup. It’s there. Like a little campfire in my soul.
So, we’ve touched on some of these topics in the past, but I think it’s worth it to go over them again. Ready? Let’s do this.
What is yoga?
Well, I’m not positive on that definition, but here’s what the internet says:
a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
I know, that “Hindu” word has got you freaking out a little. So let me help you out. While I do yoga, I am not engaging in Hinduism. Yoga has definitely modernized and changed with the times. In fact, there is one yoga ministry (Holy Yoga) I know of that devote their practices to glorifying Jesus. Just because one does yoga does not mean one is a heathen. Untwist your panties.
For me, yoga is connecting my mind to my body. For the past five years, I have spent almost all of my time nourishing myself for two. I had developed habits that we were good for a pregnant and breastfeeding mother. But as a mom who was now neither of those things, I felt like I didn’t know how to eat, work out, or know what my body was actually doing. Pregnancy does that to you.
Not only was I eating poorly, but my body was not bouncing back after having a baby. I am lucky to have genetics that have blessed me with a body that rebounds rather quickly, but I felt like I didn’t know my body. Physically, things are different, obviously, but I didn’t know how strong or weak I was. My core felt like a hot mess. And the motivation for working out to fix it? Absolutely not there. I tried running, and hated that with a passion. I tried exercises I could do at home, but I felt like I was getting no where. So I bought a yoga mat clearanced for $8 and decided I had to give it a shot. The idea of being able to do a headstand was what intrigued me. Before I started yoga, I couldn’t do a single push up without struggling.
What does your practice look like?
I initially began by looking at articles on the internet that showed pictures of other people doing yoga. I did yoga for a brief time in middle school, so I was hoping I could do poses from memory. Wrong. Don’t try that.
I had an epiphany one day to look on YouTube. I chose a beginner video, and spent most of the time trying to get into poses, getting out of the poses to look at the video, and then trying the pose again. I spent the first few weeks doing the same few videos every other day, focusing on how a pose works, what it should feel like, and how to get in and out of it. As a beginner, I relied heavily on patience to get me through the learning process. It helped that I watched videos done by Candace, a great instructor. She describes poses so clearly, as well as what the body should be feeling in the pose.
I would do the same two or three videos a week, every week, for about a month. Once those flows felt “easy” or got boring for me, I moved on to a new video. I wasn’t necessarily “good” at yoga. It took me about 6 weeks into doing yoga consistently that I realized when in Upward Dog, you aren’t supposed to just leave your legs on the floor. (It was such an easy pose up until that point!) I was doing a lot of learning, which meant getting to know these muscles that I forgot I had or didn’t know were there in the first place.
I now practice at least every other day with a thirty minute or longer video. And if I’m feeling really good, I practice every day with the hopes of nailing a pose I’ve been struggling with.
There are endless articles on the internet that will proclaim the benefits of yoga on the body and mind. I can only tell you exactly what it’s done for me.
When I began, I couldn’t do a push up well, if at all. Today I don’t struggle. I even incorporate them sometimes in my practice. I also have balance that I didn’t have before. When my practice is lacking and I haven’t done anything for three days (and it’s always on the third day), my back starts to hurt. I never had back issues in the past, but I do know that yoga has largely increased my flexibility. My back tends to tense up when I haven’t been stretching it.
I can now get into a headstand without the help of a wall or my husband. It took eight months of solid work! Eight months! It’s slow and steady. But the results show when it becomes part of your routine. There are certain poses that I still cannot do, but the fact that I have the challenge to get there really gets me excited, another thing I love about yoga. It takes work to get there, but hitting a headstand for the first time made me feel like superwoman. I don’t have a six pack. But I can keep up with my boys now better than before. I’ve seen results from putting in the effort to put myself first.
But how? How do you do this?
I make room for it. I put my boys to bed and roll out my yoga mat around 8:30 and get to work. I choose it. Maybe it isn’t for you, and that’s okay! Yoga makes me feel like a kid, makes me feel like I am getting stronger every day, and makes me excited to keep challenging myself farther every day. I do it because I love it. Do what you love, right?
Here are the videos I did to help get acquainted with yoga:
Here are the videos I’m currently loving: