From Foreigner to Fanatic: How I Overcame My Fears about Yoga

 

 

My mom has been doing yoga for years. As a child I watched her do headstands, twist herself into impossible looking poses, take loud scary sounding breaths and discuss how the moon was affecting her mood with her fellow yogis. She constantly encouraged me to join her, but it all seemed a little scary and foreign.

Years later, in university, a friend convinced me to join her for a hot yoga class in the school gym. It was HOT and the gym did not smell great. In short, my first yoga experience was off putting.

After a few years of ‘adulting’, I began to feel more stress creeping into my day-to-day life. During dinner with a few girlfriends we started to discuss how yoga was helping them to feel calmer and more relaxed, not just when they were in the studio, but throughout day. These girls were my friends, they weren’t super fit yogis, they didn’t have any prior yoga experience and they were both pursuing further education and living on a limited budget. I liked what I was hearing, but I was still hesitant. Finally, a few weeks later, I walked into a yoga studio (yes, it was Karma Lifestyle). The room was full, and people were softly chatting away. My teacher, Francesca and her puppy Zoya, gave me a guided tour and told me what to expect in the class. This was after she had spent 15 minutes with me on the phone the day before talking me through the different classes and how they might suit my needs. (Francesca is amazing!)

It took a lot to get me to my first yoga class, but since I started in 2016, I have not stopped. Between re-assuring discussions with friends and going to my first few months of classes I have learned that:

  • You don’t have to be super flexible or fit to do yoga. EVERY pose can be modified or changed to fit your needs. The people you often see in yoga advertisements or in online videos are Yoga teachers, who dedicate much of their lives to yoga. And remember, they were once beginners too. Trust me, my mom did not start her practice doing headstands.
  • Yoga is not about twisting yourself into crazy positions. It’s about connecting with yourself through breath. Some of my favourite yoga classes are restorative in nature, meaning you move very slowly into very simple positions (laying on your back, laying on your side) and focus on your breathing.
  • There are many different types of yoga and not every type will be for you. If you are interested in starting your yoga practice, talk with friends or a yoga instructor about what class will fit your needs. Most yoga studios also have detailed descriptions of what you can expect in each class on their website.
  • One bad experience should not turn you off something forever. This rule applies to a lot of things in life, but now I am kicking myself for not giving yoga a second chance after my hot yoga experience years ago.
  • Doing yoga at home is great, but there is nothing quite as good as good as doing yoga in a studio. There are no distractions and you truly get to enjoy “me time” Plus, the positive and rejuvenating energy that you are surrounded by in a yoga class is AMAZING.
  • It’s worth the investment. I often purchase a three- or six-month yoga pass. The cost of the pass can be anywhere from $130 - $300. Going to one class per week means that I am spending just over $10 a week. For $10 a week I have learned how to better manage my stress, made new friends and become physically and mentally stronger. As I said, it’s TOTALLY worth the investment.

 If you are curious about yoga, but are nervous about getting started, I encourage you to register for the Introduction to Yoga series starting at Karma Lifestyle in January 2019. This eight-week series will teach you some yoga basics in a safe space with other beginners.

If you prefer to talk with someone directly about starting your yoga practice reach out to Francesca, she really is amazing, or you can contact me via email.

I hope to see you in the studio soon.

Ashley