If you had told me five years ago that I’d become an avid yogi and eventually even a yoga teacher, I would’ve laughed in your face. I never thought I’d become a serious practitioner. After all, I was a gym rat. I loved cardio and lifting weights and anything else that made me feel strong. Yoga seemed … slow. How was I supposed to burn fat and lose weight? What a waste of time.
How very wrong I was. Yes, I began yoga by finding the toughest power vinyasa flow classes I could attend. I live in Los Angeles, so “athletic” yoga isn’t hard to find. Even now, I mostly practice flow in a heated studio. Even so, I know the calorie burn can’t equal that of intense cardio or weight training.
Despite all that, I hardly lift weights or do much cardio anymore, and I’m in terrific shape. I do a hot sculpt class once a week with light weights and bootcamp-style exercises. Other than that, I only train using my own body weight. I still do regular cardio, but nothing like before. I was wrong. I can absolutely stay healthy and fit doing yoga every day. I’m stronger than ever, especially through my core. More importantly, I’m limber and flexible in a way I never thought possible.
My body is in amazing condition from hot yoga and that allows me to achieve other fitness goals. I’ve built up lung endurance in the heat and now running in that is much easier. I’m toned and my back is in the best condition it’s ever been. I feel okay going shirtless to every class – something I never would’ve done in the beginning. I understand more than ever the power of my body and what it can do – I don’t worry so much about how I think it looks. If I’m having a “fat” day, who cares? It doesn’t change my strength and my ability.
More importantly, yoga has changed my mental attitude about myself entirely for the better. I never thought I could be this flexible. I never thought I could be this strong. I never thought that I could do the things I do easily now. It has taught me to push myself and explore my boundaries, because more than likely I can surpass them with practice.
My mind is calmer. I use yoga as a meditation now, especially while going through a flow I already know. My breath is deeper and more even. I’ve reduced my anxiety to almost nothing. I’m focused and thoughtful and more patient. Yoga has literally changed who I am inside and out. It has forced me to explore my fears and also brought me joy and personal triumphs. It has helped me release emotions I thought would be trapped inside my heart forever. It has helped me forgive both myself and others.
I would urge anyone who doesn’t think that yoga is “for” her – try it out. You might be surprised. There are so many styles and forms that almost anyone can find something she likes. I truly believe that yoga is “for” everyone, but I was once a non-believer as well. I can testify firsthand to the incredible transforming effect it will have on your life once you jump in!