I’ve talked about the Seasons of Motherhood in the past and thought it would be appropriate to weave that into Part 2 of my yoga journey.
Are you wondering what defines a season? Well, my best analogy is linking the seasons of the year to the stages of our lives.
As I looked back and reflected on my seasons of life, I began to realize that there was a correlation between that and my yoga practice.
While last week’s post guides one on how to begin a yoga journey, this post really dives into my fitness journey and how I approached yoga beginning in my teens through to my current age, 37.
A skinny teen
Yoga was an afterthought. I viewed it as a practice where you must force the body into pretzel-like positions and flip upside down like a gymnast. Of course, I later learned this to be a common misconception.
Hinduism and Buddhism hold very similar philosophies and so I was exposed to yogic thoughts without even knowing it. My mom was the first to introduce me to connect to my spiritual side. She took me to visit the local Buddhist temples where we’d light incense, pray, and gather for a vegetarian lunch. I didn’t quite understand what the chanting was all about and failed to keep an open mind.
In terms of exercise, I did very little weight lifting and played all the usual sports during PE. I played for the volleyball team for one season and golfed with my dad whatever chance I could. I was all about being wafer-thin. The way that I looked was never enough! By idolizing supermodels, I developed an unhealthy relationship with my body that carried on with me through college.
(A little sidebar here)
From an article in 2015 by Yoga Journal – I found this info interesting because I was in high school when this all went down:
Madonna’s album Ray of Light includes several Sanskrit chants and a song called “Shanti/Ashtangi.” It wins three Grammys and sells 4 million copies.
I’m including a link to Madonna’s fitness evolution. Watch the interview with Rosie O’Donnel because Maddona tries to teach Rosie how to use ujjaii breathing!
Time magazine features Christy Turlington in Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Cock Pose) on the cover, with the headline “The Science of Yoga: Millions of Americans are discovering this ancient exercise. Here’s the skinny on why it makes you feel so good.”
My early 20’s was all about TKB
When I moved to San Diego for college, I spent my free time at the gym limiting myself to running and lifting weights (occasionally) to avoid gaining the “Freshman 15”. I was introduced to Turbo Kick Boxing through one of my best friends in college. Leti convinced me to go to a class at San Diego State’s ARC. At first, I was so confused by the choreography and laughed through the majority of the classes.
Once I graduated, I avoided GroupX and went back to my old routine of cardio and weights. It got boring real quick! Leti met me for classes at 24 Hour Fitness and slowly I became attached to certain instructors. It did not happen overnight; but through trial and error, dedication, and sheer motivation I learned all the moves and fell in love with the energy I felt being in a group of like-minded people. It was at that time when I realized what I liked in a work-out class and teacher.
Then there was YOGA
I had a roommate who urged me to take classes at a studio, but I kept making excuses to skip them. It was my way of avoiding something new. Somewhere down the line, I took a few yoga classes at my gym and absolutely hated it. The pace was too slow and the music was different from what I was accustomed to. I had been programmed to fast-paced movements synchronized to upbeat music. I craved a high-energy work-out because it felt good to sweat!
Then I found Jillian Michael’s yoga program at home. It was so challenging and I struggled to get through portions of the work-out. That is when I realized I needed more time to cultivate a yoga practice in order to enjoy it.
When I moved to Oklahoma, I joined a gym and for the sake of losing weight, and once again got bored with my cardio routine. I researched gyms that offered classes and stumbled upon yoga and barre studios. I tested studios out, trying to find one that resonated with me. My practice was far from consistent because I couldn’t quite afford a monthly membership to one studio at the time. Also, I developed a love/hate relationship with arm balances (crow pose – bakasana) and inversions (handstands). So, I held on to a fear of those asanas for years.
I opted for at home work-outs instead
Quickly, I learned that a home practice alone was just not the same. I craved being in classes with other people around me. The energy was unmistakable! My co-workers asked me to join a Zumba class that met once a week, which was fun while it lasted. With a wedding coming up, I couldn’t afford more sessions. Through Meetup.com, I found a fitness group that practiced for 30 minutes a day, once a week, and continued my gym at home with DVD work-outs like Kickboxing with Jillian Michaels, T25 and, Turbo Jam.
Early 30’s – To become certified or not?
In the back of my mind, I wanted to become certified to teach fitness classes. Feeling good about my body being strong made me happy and it became a passion that I wanted to share. I explored Turbo Kick Boxing and could have traveled to Texas for a class through Chalene’s original business, Powder Blue Productions. A yoga training had crossed my mind as well, but both were way out of budget for me. So, I kept the idea in my back pocket for future reference. My yoga practice also took a back seat until I moved back to California.
When you’re pregnant for the first time, you approach things with caution. My doctor advised me not to treat pregnancy like it was a disease. He debunked a lot of old wives’ tales and taught me to continue with my exercise routine and modify it when necessary. Despite what my doctor said, I downplayed my work-outs the first trimester due to a lack of energy. Once the second trimester hit, I was a gym rat again and followed my favorite instructors in the area.
It was like clock-work. I knew what moves to expect and flowed with the group with music blaring through the gym’s sound system. I hit a wall and slowly grew tired of the upbeat, high-intensity work-outs I once religiously loved.
Metatarsal pain is what brought me to expand my yoga practice. Throughout the course of my pregnancies, I explored different methods and formed a great attachment to the variety yoga had to offer. I made it a goal to practice more than once a week. Naturally, I began with pre-natal and gradually shifted to PiYo, Yogalates, heated vinyasa flows, and restorative yoga.
Mindfulness – Less is more
Yoga happens in the pause – Maty Ezraty
Having three kids is utterly exhausting! So, as you can imagine, keeping up with a solid work-out regiment went out the window (especially with the pandemic and having the kids attached to me.) Like most people, yoga was a way to de-stress from the world. It was through my YTT where I learned self-acceptance. I spent so much of my life trying to fit into a mold when all I really needed to do was love myself for my uniqueness.
The journey is far from over
To be continued…