I’ve always dabbled around with yoga, but earlier this year I decided I would make yoga a part of my fitness routine. I was in such a slump (and some days I still am!), but yoga felt like a good fit. To me, a yogi is strong, courageous, and a little more in-tune with themselves. I wanted to be those things.
I found a yoga studio, Embody Yoga & Pilates, in downtown Oshkosh. Embody is a hot yoga and pilates studio. Each instructor brings their own flavor to class, and I’ve truly enjoyed every single class and instructor.
This summer, Embody hosted a summer challenge. Each class you earned a star sticker (uhm, who doesn’t love stickers?!), and the more classes you went to, the more prizes you were eligible to win (free yoga, t-shirts, etc.). I thought it was the perfect way to keep me accountable with my new routine. For most of the summer, I dedicated myself to three yoga classes a week. Sometimes I went to four, sometimes I only did two. Near the end I was a hot mess and missed a lot. 🙁
Despite missing a few classes in the end, I felt an incredible realization and change in myself over the course of three months. I feel the need to share them because:
- I think yoga is so stinkin’ beneficial no matter who you are, and I wish everyone would give it a try in some capacity or another. Maybe this will convince you. 🙂
- If you want to try out yoga, but you’re nervous because of X, Y, Z, this might give you some confidence to give it a try.
- Honestly, this will help me further sort out my experience, so it’s helpful for me as well. 🙂
So, yoga doesn’t have to be ‘your thing’, and it isn’t even really mine. But if you’ve wanted to try out yoga and there are some things holding you back, this might help give you that push to give it a try. From a newbie yogi, here’s what happened…
No one really cared that I didn’t know I was doing. One of my biggest fears when going to yoga was that people would judge me for not being able to move a certain way or if I had no idea what it meant when the instructor said, “Uttanasana” (it means ‘forward fold’ btw. :)). I started the summer as far back in the class as I could so that when I did topple over or had to take a break, and it helped me become more comfortable, but I realized quickly that even when I was in the very front of class, people weren’t paying attention to what I was doing. And if they were, they didn’t show it. You find that you don’t pay attention to anyone around you either. It’s all about you and your mat.
I (almost) stopped crying for no reason. So much of class time is about your mental strength. I always got so excited when I could pull off the flow of a chaturanga to upward facing dog, but what was even better was when I realized I stopped crying for no reason and that I felt less chaotic. I definitely still freak out on occasion, but it is far less than several months ago. I’m so much more aware of how I’m feeling, and when I can feel myself start to get out of whack, I focus on my breathe and push through whatever is stressing me out. I am bad with words, and I wish I could express the thought process in my mind when I do this because it truly is helpful. The instructors don’t just spend class telling you to move from X pose to Y. They know when you’re struggling and they know the words to say to get you through it. Sometimes it gets you through the pose you’re holding or trying to nail, but many times I’ve found their words helpful outside of class. Something clicks. And then I take that with me when I leave.
My SI joint issues got better. Last December I started having this sharp pain and tightness in my hips that made everything from lifting to bending over to shave my legs painful. I went to an amazing chiropractor, Belville & Associates Chiropractor, and Dr. Mootz helped me get back to normal. They’re really great there, but I still had issues every once in awhile. Stretching helped immensely, and I started to notice that yoga helped even more. I really learned a lot about my body in yoga, and now I know the types of movements that upset my SI joint and my back. I can tell when things are a little tweaked, and I adjust myself during class (and outside of class) to keep my SI joint from getting even angrier. I don’t like when it’s angry. 🙂
I drank way more water. This is good!! I am not horrible at drinking enough water, but I could definitely be better. Because I was attending hot yoga classes, water was even more important before class. If I didn’t have enough water, boy oh boy I could tell. I would get light headed and dizzy and be way more likely to topple over. I made sure to load up on water the days I had class, and because I was so used to doing that, I started drinking more water every day. I know you’ve heard that water does wonders for the body, and it does. SO DRINK IT. You’ll feel so much better. I PROMISE.
I gained strength in my upper body. When I was lifting regularly, I was always behind on my upper body strength. Maybe I didn’t push myself hard enough or maybe I wasn’t doing the right exercises, but I wasn’t progressing like I was with my lower body. Yoga didn’t give me huge arms, and I am still not very strong, BUT GUESS WHAT. I can do a push up and a bunch of chaturangas, which is pretty damn impressive for me. I have never been able to do a chaturanga before this summer. And now I can. 🙂 That’s a win for me.
I think everyone experiences yoga differently, but I’ve seen so many improvements to my mental and physical health this summer, and I’m so happy that I invested in my health. I feel so strongly about getting my friends and family to try it out too. I think everyone would benefit from a yoga class of any kind. You don’t have to sweat your ass off in a hot yoga studio. A slow, relaxing restorative yoga class is just as beneficial – if not more.
Now that Embody Yoga’s summer challenge is over, I’m shifting back to lifting because I miss it so much, but I am definitely keeping yoga in the mix. I can tell when I need a class to ground myself and focus. Those are the days that I go. My mat is always in my car.
If you are from the area, and you want to go to a yoga class, consider this an invitation to join me! Embody Yoga & Pilates is seriously such a great studio, and guess what – your first class is FREE. So, what do you have to lose? (Nothing, the answer is nothing.)
Do you practice yoga? What’s your favorite style? How about your favorite pose? TELL ME! 🙂