Not too long ago, I had a friend beg me to go to yoga class with him. I refused. I'm probably the least flexible, least graceful person you'll ever meet, and I had no desire to embarrass myself in front of 20+ people.
He asked me a few more times after that, but his pleadings became more and more hopeless each time. Finally, much to my relief, he stopped asking.
A few months later, something changed in me. I'm not really sure what triggered it, but some sort of light switch in me seemed to turn on.
I decided to try out this thing called "yoga" that everyone had been talking about.
The first day was brutal. I pulled up a YouTube video on my laptop and tried it out in my own bedroom. I was unbalanced and out of shape. I struggled to even touch my toes. Even if I did manage to pull off a move, (however terribly and incorrectly) I could only hold it for a quarter of the time the video instructor told me.
No one was around, but I still felt humiliated and discouraged. I gave up halfway through the video and fought back tears as I shut my laptop.
But the next day, I felt amazing. It felt different from a regular workout because while my muscles were a little sore, I didn't feel like they were angry with me. I felt like they were thanking me.
So I tried again that very night. I lasted a little longer than the night before, but I'm sure my accuracy in the movements and asanas (yoga poses) were just as bad. At the end, I turned off the video and meditated for 10 minutes.
As it turns out, meditation was magical. Almost immediately, the back and neck pain I had been feeling recently just vanished. My heart slowed to a more steady and gentle beat.
The day after that, my muscles were much more sore, but in a good way. They weren't like the angry jolts of pain I get when I push myself too hard during a run. My muscles were finally getting the exercise they had been yearning for.
I kept at it
I didn't intentionally set any specific goal to do yoga every day, it just kind of happened. It felt good, and I enjoyed it. Maybe not always in the moment, but it always paid off. My meditation periods calmed my mind and steadied my breathing better than anything I had ever tried before. (And as someone who struggles with anxiety, that's really saying something.)
Some days meant taking time for 90 minute yoga sessions, while some days meant a 20 minute practice and a brief meditation. I made my yoga fit to my schedule to help stay consistent with my practice.
These changes began impacting other parts of my life
I felt great. It became easier to sit at my desk for eight hours a day because I had little to no back or neck pain.
I wanted to eat better and give my body the proper vitamins and nutrients it needed. Even skin problems I've had for years started to vanish.
I was more in-tune with my own body and mental self. I was able to concentrate better. I woke up in the morning feeling more rested.
My old friend - the one who had tried and failed to bring me to his yoga classes, noticed a change. Without even knowing I had gotten into yoga, he told me, " You're beautiful. You're just glowing. It's like you've woken up or something."
While there are still several poses I can barely manage to pull off, that's the great thing about yoga! It's not about how well you can pull of the poses, it's about pushing yourself and broadening your horizons. It's about learning to love yourself, to love your body and to take care of it so that it can take care of you. I first fell in love with yoga, then fell in love with myself.
There's truly a yoga pose for everyone, just remember to adapt the practice as needed to help your unique body.
Below are some simple yoga poses designed to help with balance, stretching out sore muscles and clarity of mind. Give it a try; your body will thank you for it!
Emily Brady is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She studied Communication with an emphasis in journalism. She loves photography and finding a good book to read in her hammock on a sunny, breezy day.