Every time I tell non-yogis that I do yoga, their immediate reaction is "why do you like it so much?" And then I stand there for 20 minutes rambling on and on answering that ridiculous question. So today I'm going to dive deeper into that question, and clarify that I don't just "like" it, I love it!
My yoga journey began 4 years ago after my freshman year of high school. I began going to Bikram Yoga in hopes to get in shape to make the varsity field hockey team the following fall. I was hooked, and practiced about 5 days a week, 7 when I had the chance. I did Bikram regularly for a few years, and I loved it, but my senior year my English teacher told me I needed to give Vinyasa yoga a try.
Being a student athlete, I was always sore and tight, and loved escaping to the studio as much as possible. So I took the advice and went to my first Vinyasa yoga class this past September. I was immediately obsessed. I loved the pace, the flow, and how relaxed I felt afterwards. And also, the fabulous teacher, shout out to Mary Catherine! I began practicing when I could during the season, 2 days a week in the winter, and this summer I was able to practice 3 days a week.
Though at the young age of 15 I started yoga to get in shape, that's not what it's about for me anymore. Even though I have to point out to the haters that IT IS A WORK OUT, and it can be very challenging, the benefits go beyond the physical aspect. High school was the worst for me, and honestly yoga helped me get through it. Because the thing about going into that studio is, no one gives a shit if you failed your math test, and no one knows that you missed the ball in the big game, and they don't care!
For my whole life I have been competitive. I have been surrounded by sports and people who are constantly pushing me for more. Not to be conceited, but I was good at the sports I played, and because of that people expected a lot from me. I always had to be better, always had to score more goals, always had to be in the paper, and that got really, really exhausting. In yoga, none of that matters. Yoga is not a competition, it is your own personal practice. The people in the class with you are not angry at you for not doing a pose, they aren't judging your formation, because all they are focused on is themselves, and that's so refreshing. Yoga was the first thing in my life that I did for me, because I liked it, because I wanted to, and without any pressure or judgement from anybody else. How amazing does that sound?
Yoga has given me something to look forward to when life is though, and given me a place to escape to and seek comfort in. Yoga has taught me to be kind to myself as well as others, and that your practice is a journey and there is no such thing as perfection. The mental and physical benefits cannot be matched. The sports I played, sure they got me in shape, but I pretty much wanted to die the whole time and it was mentally and physically draining. Yoga is SO different. You are healing your body as a whole. For me, I was able to heal the damage years of running and pushing my body has caused, and heal the anger, sadness, pain, etc, that has been bringing me down.
Also, the people that do yoga are just as amazing as the class itself. I've never encountered a mean or unfriendly person at a yoga class. I have met the most amazing people who have become good friends because of yoga. Everyone is there for the same reason, to take time to better themselves, their lives, and their practice, and that is SO amazing. I am always greeted with smiles and small talk. I look forward to hugs from my friends and to mid-class laughs in downward dog. Now I'm not saying that yogi's are perfect, because nobody is, but people who practice yoga are regularly are just so much more pleasant and understanding human beings.
So to the people who ask me why I love yoga, I love yoga because I love myself. Yoga is good for your mind, body, and soul. And as I shed tears last night as I was in my final savasana, and as I hugged my lovely friends goodbye, I thought how lucky I was to find something that makes me so happy and that makes leaving so hard. My yoga journey is not over by any means, I am already looking forward to joining the yoga club at school, and continuing to deepen my practice there. Yoga has changed my life for the better, and I don't know where I would be without it today. Namaste!