I started doing yoga a little over a year ago. At the time I had not worked out in over five months and that little voice inside was really kicking my butt, wreaking havoc on my thoughts, especially when I went straight for the fries, instead of the salad. I had done yoga before but wasn’t really impressed. It was slow and did not feel like the work out that I wanted. Prior to my five month lapse I had been working out consistently at a gym for six straight years; and frankly I didn’t want to see another treadmill or bench press again. But as the heat of summer approached and I walked to the pool for the first time, I was really beginning to feel the guilt of those fries taking shape on my……

I can’t tell you why I ended up in a yoga studio, but I can tell you I wanted a different experience than the gym. And at the time I was also very lazy when it came to things outside of work. My life was falling apart, and divorce was inevitable. All I wanted to do was eat and watch reruns of Oprah because she made me feel happy. So, I decided to try and get my shit together and I took a bikram hot yoga class. It’s miserable, really. For an hour and a half you flow through 26 asanas in a room that averages 110-120 degrees at 60% humidity. Many of the poses are based on your own body weight which helps build strength,and even breath. While my goal was to lose those extra “cakes and fries” there was something else I was losing too, my emotions. Right in front of everyone else in the class. Good Lord, what the hell is wrong with me I thought?

As I continued on my journey, I added Vinyassa flow to my practice. Not only did it combine meditation to my practice but it was much faster paced and focused on breath and chakras. Breath and breathing; something few of us really do throughout the day because we tend to tense up and hold things in – not good for us at all.

5 Different Uses for your Yoga Mat

Every time I would get into childs pose or the instructor would guide us to our heart center my emotions would bubble up within me. “Why on earth is this happening? What is wrong with me? Am I losing my mind?” Well a few days ago Yoga Journal released a wonderful article on this very thing. According to Joan Harrigan, Ph.D:

“Yoga is not merely an athletic system; it is a spiritual system. The asanas are designed to affect the subtle body for the purpose of spiritual transformation. People enter into the practice of yoga for physical fitness or physical health, or even because they’ve heard it’s good for relaxation, but ultimately the purpose of yoga practice is spiritual development.”

This development depends on breaking through places in the subtle body that are blocked with unresolved issues and energy. “Anytime you work with the body, you are also working with the mind and the energy system—which is the bridge between body and mind,” Harrigan explains. And since that means working with emotions, emotional breakthroughs can be seen as markers of progress on the road to personal and spiritual growth.” Read article here

Bikram has been my Everest. Some days I can get half way up the mountain and others days I barely get across the lowlands. Vinyassa however has been a great addition, and I consider it to be my Grand Canyon. Sure there are difficult parts but there is so much beauty and enjoyment in it I hardly notice that I am doing 400 push-ups, and it has really allowed me to tap into those subtle energies for spiritual growth.

Now looking back I realize that due to my external conditions, I was drawn to the peace that yoga would bring me. It has taught me proper breath, relaxation, and connected me to my my mind, body and spirit. Things like stress eating, external anxieties and guilt no longer serve me. I suggest everyone try yoga. It is an exercise for mind, body and spirit that anyone at any age can do and try, and you will be amazed at how it eliminates without judgement, what no longer serves you.

Have you tried yoga?