How I Fell In Love With Yoga (Even Though I’m “Bad” At It)
I cant touch my toes, and sitting cross legged is uncomfortable for me, but I love yoga anyway.
I have tried to get into a relationship with yoga for several years now. Starting just after college when I lived in Hawaii for a few months, and continuing through my journey back to New York, I have tried countless studios and instructors, but none stuck. At the studio in Hawaii, I felt like I just.wasnt.making.progress. Not in the way that progress can be seen in other sports - its totally possible to go from couch to a 5k run in a few weeks, but for me, it was not possible to go from not touching my toes to grazing my fingers on the floor no matter how many days a week I practiced. When I came back to New York, I tried Bikram yoga at a studio in NYC, and was SO HOT that I had to leave mid class. Then I tried a few non-hot studios, and was…bored? No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get engaged. And so, disheartened and thinking that yoga would just never be for me, I stopped trying for a while.
It wasn’t until a serious illness knocked me off my feet for several months that I thought about returning. I was not able to do the more high impact workouts that I was used too (doctors orders), so I had to look for alternatives. I had been literally sitting on my couch for weeks recovering from surgery barely able to move, and at that point I just honestly wanted to do something, anything, that would get my body moving. Even if it was just a couple of down dogs, and then I hung out in shavasana for the rest of the class (final resting pose- for non-yogi’s this is basically lying on your back) I couldn’t wait to just do SOMETHING.
So, I walked into YogaSpark Westchester with absolutely no expectations. No high hopes that I would turn into a human pretzel by some yoga magic. No wishing to see through my third eye and align my chakras. And most importantly, an understanding that this would be hard. With my body still in full recovery mode, I knew that there would be things that I would just not be able to do. And I also knew that I had to honor those moments, and allow myself to not keep doing. If that meant taking a few moments in a child’s pose, or even possibly leaving the class early. I walked through the door to my first class with a willingness to forgive my body for what it could not do.
What I was not expecting was to leave feeling grateful for what my body could do.
That first class, all I wanted was to just go. To be there, to move a little, and to literally just be in a space that was actively fostering the wellness of the class attendees. What I got was so much more. The teacher that night, Jen Alosi Ham (who is AMAZING and I highly recommend taking her classes! Check her out here) created what I have come to think of as the YogaSpark experience - warm (like literally - classes are taught at around 90-95 degrees), welcoming, and encourage a deep introspection into your own emotional and mental self through your physical body’s shapes, poses, and balance. I am only a little embarrassed to say that I cried that first class. Her teaching that night touched an emotional well inside me that I didn’t know needed to be tapped. For the first time in my trying-to-like-yoga journey, I finally got IT. That yoga is not about being the best most flexible human pretzel. That its OK to not be that now and to not be that ever. That the yoga journey is simply that - a journey. There is not a destination. The practice is the destination. Showing up for yourself on the mat is the destination. Sure, I will probably improve over time, and some poses will (hopefully, fingers crossed!) get easier for me, but the truth is, that doesn’t matter. What matters is learning how to be in my body and in my mind. How those things connect, how to make them talk to each other, to inform each other of what feels right in my body.
It’s taken me years to finally be in a place to really get this. To understand that I am allowed to create a space inside myself that does not have a goal - some defined thing that must be achieved in order for the efforts to feel worthwhile. That the efforts themselves are enough. The journey is enough. I may never be able to touch my toes, but screw it, I don’t need to.
Thinking about trying YogaSpark? Do It!
YogaSpark has become a weekly ritual for me- a way to start my week of feeling mentally and physically refreshed. If you have ever been interested in getting into yoga, its a wonderful studio to start with.
Things I love about YogaSpark Westchester:
The instructors! No matter who you take a class with, I have only ever been impressed with the high level of professionalism and deep understanding of yoga poses and teaching that the instructors have. While they all have their own unique twist to their class, each one creates a flow that most people will find doable (important for beginners and non-flexible people like me!) and explain the movements with clarity, often demonstrating the pose at the front of the class, or walking around and giving adjustments (if you want them).
The studio! One of the best features of this studio is that you don’t need to bring anything with you. They have mats, mat towels, face towels, shower towels, blocks, straps, and you can even buy a yoga outfit there too. I love that all of the essentials for class are not only provided, they are free. No extra mat rental charge, no charge for the towels or blocks, no charge to fill up your water bottle (though you can also buy a bottle if you don’t have one). The studio, restrooms, locker rooms, and showers are clean and well kept, and there are lots of amenities provided (like a hair dryer, hair ties, shampoo/conditioner/body and face wash etc.) and they are all included!
The jams! Seriously, some of the best music of any studio (yoga or not) I have been to! I love that the instructors really seem to coordinate their music playlists with the poses, so it makes sense and helps reinforce the flow. The songs are varied across genres and decades, yet the playlists always seem so incredibly cohesive and intentional.
The heat! This is one of those just right situations for me. As I mentioned above, traditional bikram can be HOT - typically around 108 degrees which was just too much for me, but at YogaSpark they get it juuuust right in a range of 90-95 degrees. It’s warm enough to loosen you up and make you sweat (like, a lot) but not hot enough to make it suffocating or unbearable. The warmth feels like being wrapped up in a protective cocoon in the best way.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for your first class and meet me on the mat!
Website here: YogaSpark Westchester
Please note the opinions in this piece are entirely my own, this is not an affiliated or sponsored post - I just really love YogaSpark!