If you type #yoga on any social media outlet, you will be flooded with photos that are breath-taking with people bending their bodies in ways that seem truly and physically impossible. Yoga isn’t about the pretty pictures on social media and the fun-printed yoga pants. Don’t get me wrong: fun pants in a pretty location is fun, but that isn’t an actual yoga practice. Yoga is something so much deeper, so much more. Yoga can benefit the physical body, the mind, the soul and how the body internally functions.
I struggled with body issues, anxiety and depression my entire life. Everything I tried was always a band aid – they covered the problem for a while but the wounds never healed.
I found my very first yoga class through a medical provider, after a serious depression episode. I was nervous to attend, I had zero background knowledge of yoga. I didn’t know that there were Sanskrit names for poses, I didn’t know a single pose and I didn’t own a yoga mat. But, I gave it a shot anyway. I stopped by Walmart on my way to the class, to buy a yoga mat (turns out, I didn’t need to… most yoga classes offer mats that you can borrow, I just didn’t know that then). I found a purple yoga mat at Walmart and purchased it for less than $10. I unwrapped it in my car and continued on my way to the yoga class. I felt so good walking into the class, I found a little corner and placed my mat there. Holly Hoops, the instructor, noticed I was a new face in the class. She came over, introduced herself and asked about me and if I had a practice. She was so warm, welcoming and inviting (I forever thank Holly for the love she placed in my heart that day). Class began. Holly queued the poses in Sanskrit then in English, which I still didn’t understand – I followed along by watching the best I could for the hour long class, with Holly’s help, adjustments and patience. After the class was over, I felt this incredible feeling of overwhelming happiness, lightness and airiness. I was hooked!
That was a little over 4 years ago, and while the physicality of my yoga practice looks different, it is my heart that my practice has inspired growth in the most. I no longer struggle as deeply with my anxiety and depression. My outlook of my physical appearance has drastically changed: I no longer stress and worry as much about how I appear to others but rather the love I leave in their life. If you can step onto your mat/blanket/floor for 5 minutes to just breathe, it’s amazing the way you will start to stay for 15 minutes, then 30 and eventually maybe even an hour, even if it is just breathing. Occasionally, I stray from my practice and will go sometime without unrolling my mat. That’s the beautiful thing about a yoga practice: it’s yours and it works for you. I always find my way back to it, and my practice has never let me down.
If you’re interested in starting a yoga practice, you can attend a class at a studio, your local rec center or YMCA. You can also always practice in your home, if you feel more comfortable. YouTube is an amazing resource to find free online classes and there are many smartphone apps you can download as well. My favorite is “Simply Yoga”: there is a free and a paid edition on both Apple and Android.
Your practices is forever yours,
You can find me on Instagram at @YogiTheBritty