If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I’d be practicing yoga daily, I wouldn’t have believed them. I always looked at yoga like something “other” people did. If you’ve ever scrolled a yoga feed on Instagram, you can understand why. Yogis and yoginis of color are not often visible in media. When you’re inundated with images of upper-class white women with perfect bodies, it’s easy to see how yoga could feel unapproachable for many women of color. Recently, I’ve noticed a trend to make yoga marketing more inclusive, which makes me happy, but we still have a long way to go.
In addition to yoga feeling unapproachable, as a former athlete (track, volleyball & tennis) I always favored weight lifting and high-intensity workouts. I couldn’t fathom how a practice focused on stretching and posing could keep my interest. Boy, was I wrong and I’m big enough to admit it! Yoga has challenged me like no other exercise routine I’ve tried. I genuinely look forward to going to class. This is so critical if you want to be consistent with working out. You have to find something you enjoy!
Yoga has been my savior in so many ways. It has helped me get into the best shape of my life, deepen my spiritual connection, help reduce chronic pains that I accepted as my new normal, significantly reduce my anxiety, and help me master my mind and body while deepening my connection with my soul. I never could have predicted how much making this one choice to try something outside my comfort zone could have such a profound impact on the trajectory of my life.
While there are so many reasons why I love my practice, here are my top 5 reasons why I fell in love with yoga:
1. I fell in love with my body: From my very first practice where I stumbled clumsily through pose names that were foreign to me, I felt a profound connection with my body. I was no longer moving mindlessly through a workout trying to blast the pounds away, I was intentionally focusing on each part of my body while pushing beyond my comfort zone in a loving way. By focusing intently on my body through each pose, I realized just how beautiful is the human body…my human body. I really appreciated the beauty of how every part of me seamlessly works together to aid me into these poses, and… through life. Prior to yoga, I often viewed exercise as something I needed to do when I wanted to drop some pounds. I wasn’t as consistent with going to the gym as I knew I should be. (Truth be told, I took my first yoga class at the Y because I was trying to lose weight for an upcoming trip.) Now I realize that exercising is a supreme act of self-love. It’s as important as eating and sleeping to me. You are prioritizing giving your body what it needs to operate at its best. That’s love. We all have a duty to give our bodies whatever they need to be healthy. You only have one body, honor that sh*t! 💛
2. Yoga built my confidence: As I got deeper into my practice, I watched what was once difficult seem easy. Early on, I remember seeing people flowing effortlessly into advanced poses while thinking I would never be able to do that, only to find myself effortlessly executing what I once believed was impossible.
I remember when I hit crow pose for the first time and a tear unexpectedly rolled down my eye. Every other time I couldn’t hold the pose, but I kept trying every time the teacher called for it. Then one day I could suddenly do something that always felt so out of reach.
Now I approach each class with a spirit of openness and constantly challenge myself instead of doubting my abilities. Yoga pushes the bounds of what you believe is possible for yourself. Through that growth, I developed a newfound confidence in my abilities. This confidence and mentality transcended my yoga practice, as it has become the blueprint for this new chapter of my life. I’m living more fearlessly. I know I can accomplish anything if I’m willing to consistently put the work in to get there, and that’s a dope feeling.
3. I learned to appreciate the journey to fitness: Unlike many exercise and diet fads out there, yoga does not promise a picture perfect body in 30 days. You’re not going to be able to do all the difficult poses after a week of practicing, and some poses may take you years to master. However, through yoga, you learn patience and how to appreciate where you are at that moment. Your body may not morph overnight, but somewhere along the way you look up and notice the physical fruits of your spiritual labor. After practicing yoga consistently for a little over a year, I am so in love with how my body has changed. I have muscle definition in places I didn’t think was possible, and I’m stronger and more flexible than I’ve ever been. At age 35, I can proudly say this is the best I’ve felt in my life. This isn’t a fad for me, this is now a way of life.
4. I learned the importance of mindfulness: Yoga is one of the greatest ways to practice mindfulness, in my opinion. It’s the perfect intersection of a mind, body and soul connection. It’s essentially a physical meditation. You’re only focused on yourself, your breath and the pose. You’re in the moment. In these moments of mindfulness you’re not focused on what happened in the past, nor are you worried about what may or may not happen in the future. You’re just here connecting with yourself. Your mind is free to just be. Peace is what you find in those moments of stillness and I find myself craving more of those moments. Namaste. 🧘🏾♀️
5. I stopped comparing myself to others: In any given class you may have a first-timer, someone who’s been practicing for a couple of years or someone who has been practicing for decades. Yoga is a personal journey and you are guided not to compare yourself to anyone else in the class. You’re focused only on your own body and pushing your own limits. The cool thing about yoga is that you can only focus on your body if you want to be able to hold a pose, so you really don’t have time to worry about anyone else. If you ever tried to hold a pose while distracted, you know exactly what I mean. It’s impossible!!! Imagine moving through life not feeling the need to compare yourself to others. This is a big step towards feeling free. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Never forget it.
If you’ve been around me, you know I can talk about yoga for hours on end if you let me! I hope my top 5 reasons for loving yoga inspires you to start a practice of your own or motivates you if you’ve fallen off from your practice. It’s never too late to get back to it! 😘
Do you practice yoga? If so, for how long? Do you have similar feelings about your practice? Have you felt intimidated by yoga? Are you interested in trying now? I’d love to hear from all of you! Drop me a note in the comments.