At the end of August, I decided I needed to find some sort of exercise routine, so on September 1st I registered for a month of unlimited yoga classes at the studio a few blocks from me. In September alone I took 26 classes, and I have no intention of cancelling my membership. I was genuinely surprised both by how enchantingly challenging I found yoga and how good it was for me mentally. I’m as Type A as the come, and pretty conservative, so the perception of a hippie-dippie yogi is not one easily nestled upon me, but here I am, eager to head to yoga class after work, and here’s why. 

Focus on the breath

While yoga is a serious workout in an of itself, the hardest part for me was breathing. Good flow yoga is driven by breath–using the exhales to get you closer to the pose you want, etc. And I really struggled with that at first, because I don’t often think about things as simple as breath. But they matter! And now that I’ve started to think more about my breath, I can use that outside of my practice to deal with stressful situations, to make sure my posture is good, and to deal with less than friendly coworkers. It’s also a great way to clear the mind. It’s hard to think about all the things going wrong in your life when you’re focusing so hard on the breathe within you. 

Leave everything outside the room

When I go to yoga, I go to yoga. I usually leave my phone at home. I come in my yoga gear, with my mat, take off my watch/FitBit and get into the moment. The opening meditations we do really help me forget the world outside and focus on why I am there. I set an intention for my practice each day related to what I need–calm, renewal, relaxation, or a recharge. I let myself become so into the practice that there is no world outside. In fact, I often come out of my savasana forgetting what day it is, which is amazing for someone like me who makes constant lists in their head. If you really need to find a way to turn your mind off from anxiety and stress, I recommend yoga highly. Especially restorative yoga. You can lose yourself in the moment and not be too worried about being exhausted from the workout. 

I am stronger than I think

Though I’ve done athletic things in the past (dance, track, soccer, whatever) I’ve never been considered an athlete. And while yoga can be done on many different levels, it is challenging. Especially when you start and your body isn’t used to the poses. Sometimes, I’d be in the middle of a pose and sure I was going to die. But you know what…I didn’t. A good yoga teacher will never push you so far that you injure yourself, but they will challenge you to get deep into a pose and really explore your body.  I’ve yet to die during a yoga class, and I feel stronger and stronger with each practice. Doing yoga has allowed me to feel strong both mentally and physically, but hasn’t necessarily left me unable to walk the next day like other exercise classes have. 

How to accept my imperfections

Being Type A means I don’t like to do things I’m not good at. I’ve been doing yoga for a month, so it should go without saying that I am far from a master. Some of the poses my teachers do make me laugh because I can’t imagine ever contorting my body like that, but I do my best, and I give all I can to each pose, and I push myself and it works. Yoga isn’t about perfection. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone looks different in downward dog, in cobra, et cetera, that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting something from your practice. I know that even if the girl behind me is in a full headstand and I’m just in dolphin–that’s fine. We’re doing our own thing, we’re both enjoying the inversion, and we’re getting something out of it. Being able to enjoy my practice without being so worried about what my body looks like, if I’m doing it right, et cetera. It’s about being present, not being perfect, and I can’t stress how good that is for me as a Type A person.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member