Up until a few months ago, I thought that yoga was only for model-skinny-Lululemon-wearing young girls whose thighs had never touched. I apologize if I sound judgmental.
The judging was really directed at myself, a curvy Latina, nearing her forties and without an ounce of flexibility in her body. My mind could not see the possibility of me doing those pretzel-like twists.
One day, my spinning instructor recruited me for spin-yoga, a combination class she offered with a yoga teacher. I kept throwing excuses at her: I don't have a yoga mat, I don't have yoga pants, I'm too old, I'm too fat, I can't bend like that, I don't know any yogis. I don't even know what yoga is. She just smiled and debunked my excuses one by one.
I forced myself to walk into the yoga studio and was greeted by Abby, the yoga instructor, and her warm smile. I immediately told her yoga wasn't my thing and this was probably going to be my first and last time. She listened to me in the most serene way and told me to just try it and enjoy it.
I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't a super-fast heartbeat and a sweaty endeavor like my spinning class.
When the class was over, Abby came over to me to asked how I was feeling. "You should keep practicing, your downward facing dog was pretty good!" she said. I never told her this, but those words made me feel good. I felt like I had done something right.
I kept going back for more. At first I couldn't really pinpoint what it was that kept drawing me to yoga, but now I know. Practicing yoga has taught me to be kind to myself. It has shown me in the most spectacular way that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. It has also taught me that if I don't get a pose right the first time, all I have to do is keep working at it. Now when I do yoga, I am patient and I don't judge myself. I understand that my body is different each day and I show it love and respect. In other words: I have found a way of appeasing that very loud inner critic I carry within.
Practicing yoga has taught me to be kind to myself. It has shown me in the most spectacular way that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. ... I understand that my body is different each day and I show it love and respect. In other words: I have found a way of appeasing that very loud inner critic I carry within.
Two months into my practice I had a big breakthrough. I decided I wanted to have two yoga classes a week. The only other class Abby was teaching was a 75-minute strengthen and lengthen class, and it was in a real yoga studio. I was really nervous about the length of the class and about meeting new yogis.
I had butterflies in my stomach when I walked into the studio and felt relief when I saw the class wasn't packed. The other people in the class were about my age or older than me, and when I told them it was my first long class, they were all caring and supportive. They shared their experiences with me and reminded me that we talk about yoga as a practice because our bodies are always evolving.
I fell in love with the yoga studio and the people. So much so, that I took my son to a kids' yoga class. When I saw him put his feet up on the wall to do an upside-down downward dog, I knew I wanted to do that.
I told Abby I wanted to put my feet up on the wall just like my son had done. At the end of one of classes she said we could try it. I was excited but very scared. Childhood memories of never being able to do gymnastics or a handstand plagued me. I thought my arms were going to break in two. Abby smiled, listened, and assured me my arms were not going to break and that the wall would hold me.
I moved my mat by the wall, one arm down then the other, one leg up the wall and then the other.
I was doing it! I got my feet up on the wall.
As my practice has continued I have not only seen the changes in my body but also in other areas of my life. Every time I'm scared, I remember getting my feet up on the wall. And as far as my idea of yoga? I now know anyone can do it! And I think it is perfect for these curves.