I think yoga should be the prescription for everything in life. Addicted to food? Try a little yoga. Get caught speeding? Instead of a fine, go to 5 yoga classes. Going through a divorce or life change? Find a killer counselor, and practice yoga. Related to Donald Trump? Try yoga. Busted with marijuana? Why do we even care anymore? Why did we ever care? Oh, and sure, go take some yoga.
Just try it. Really, I’m not kidding. Maybe it’s that I’m growing older, maybe it’s the change in civilization, maybe we’re all going through this…but I’m much softer now. And I’m a type A big city girl…I’ve always driven fast, talked fast, been stubborn and in charge and bossy. But not anymore (although my husband will say I’m still bossy). I’m not a pansy, but I’ve changed. Significantly. My loved ones and coworkers have all mentioned this to me in the past few years, and now I notice it as well. I notice not getting angry at other drivers. I’m more patient with those who talk slow or process slow. I’m able to pause. I’m able to breathe. I don’t get mad about spilling drinks or long lines or that coworker who insists on calling when really an email is all that is needed. And I don’t eat the entire bar of dark chocolate just because it’s in my pantry. Not every day at least.
And you know what’s really cool, that I didn’t even plan on? I don’t judge myself anymore. I don’t compare myself to others. Do I want to lose 5 pounds? Sure, who doesn’t. But I’m at peace. I’m at freaking peace. Again, this could be getting older and maybe being a little wiser. But truly, I think it all goes back to yoga.
It’s all about balance. And yoga got me here. I had no clue this version of me was possible. And I’m not perfect, not even close, and I have no desire to be. But I can see a change, a shift. And I think more of us should try this. I get that it’s not for everyone. Some of you prefer cross fit or softball or boxing and that’s totally cool. If it gets you your high, go for it. Find what is right for you. But if you have been thinking you could use a little stress release, a little break from the drama of your day, try yoga.
For me, I started with Rodney Yee videos that my husband used when we first met, in 2003. I loved them, and loved yoga, but it got away from me for years. It wasn’t til we moved to our current city that I really started back up again, and only in my room, with the door shut, away from everyone else. I had way too much fear and phobia to go to any group sessions. I was afraid the only people who went to yoga classes were stay at home soccer moms with incredible bodies. So I practiced in our spare bedroom, next to the guest bed, on a yoga mat, alone. I scoured Pinterest boards to find poses for many months, and then slowly bought some books from the used book store where I live. And then finally, a little over a year ago, I got the courage to leave my house and try out a studio. I took a random day off from work and went during the day so that if I felt embarrassed, I knew I’d never see those people again. I’m serious. And I went to two different studios in one day, one of which I fell in love with. That one studio I ended up going to day after day, month after month…and I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training there last year. I had no plans to do that, but it felt right. Everything just clicked, I wanted more peace and I wanted to be able to help others. Bingo.
So, I’m saying this because if you feel embarrassed about practicing yoga in front of a group of strangers, there’s no better place to be than with a dedicated yoga teacher and a group of people moving through poses together, in a studio. Not every day, definitely keep your home practice. But I did so many things wrong for over a year while at home that I wish I had known about. Like, you should probably take a breather after a back bend. Or, make sure your knee doesn’t go past your ankle in any of the warrior poses (or most poses actually). Find a little bit more length in downward dog. Breathe, slowly…let your breath fill your body wherever it aches. Or, if you start crying your eyes out at the end of practice while in savasana and you have no idea why, you’re OK. Someone else is doing it too. And a million other little things. My teachers have taught me so much, and ultimately one day I want to be in their shoes, helping people as much as they have helped me.
If you’re still in doubt of trying out a studio, or still don’t have the guts to break out of your home, know that in class, no one will be looking at you. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this. People only focus on themselves. Seriously. No one in class is watching you. Make as many mistakes as you want. You’re fine. I think that was my biggest fear. But I don’t know all the poses. I can’t do a headstand. My arm fat sags. I sweat a lot. No one notices. And your teacher will be right there to help assist you when you need it. If the studio doesn’t feel right or you don’t like the teacher, leave. Go find a better place. There are tons of studios. Find the one that is right for you. And, mastering a headstand is not yoga. So don’t sweat that. Yoga is peace within. Yoga is breath. Yoga is being able to handle all the ups and downs that life brings you. Yoga is not a pose. Yoga is your life.
I didn’t find peace until I tried out a few studios and finally fell in love with two. I still go back and forth between them and I probably always will. This level of peace I did not get from my home practice, and I didn’t get instantly from the studios either, but it grew over many months, and now it completely fills me. I love it. I’m so grateful to truly know happiness and kindness. My teachers all talk about empathy and being valued and being grateful and all of the good that is in our world. When you talk about good, you see good. And when you see good, you feel good. And then others around you start to feel good too. It’s as simple at that. Goodness breeds more goodness.
About a year ago, we got rid of that guest bed at home, the bed that one friend sleeps in one time a year. (Sorry, Laura…I will buy you an air mattress…promise.) That bed was really just taking up space. Now, our spare bedroom has two yoga mats, a few candles, some twinkle lights, journals, and a ton of books. It’s glorious. It’s my chapel. I start every day in it, for the first hour of my day, in silence, moving through poses, meditating and journaling, and I really cannot imagine my life any other way.
I hope you try yoga. I hope we all do. I really think it will help make our world a better, softer, kinder, more empathic place. We’re moving that way already. Let’s help move it along.
This little yoga manifestation started because I’ve had Costa Rica on my brain and I tried making some foods that we ate on our trip that I wanted to share with you. I can’t think of Costa Rica and not think of fresh fruits and veggies and happy people and a slow life, and yoga. Which got me into all of this. So, finally, I present to you my Costa Rica Tacos. These are slightly modeled after the tacos we had on our last glorious night at Jalapenos in Alajuela, with hummus instead of black beans. Namaste.