Slowing Down for Yoga

Tonight, I signed up for a month of unlimited yoga at a local studio.

I am not good at yoga. I am the over-programmed, hate-to-slow-down kind of person that struggles to sit still and breathe. The only yoga that I enjoy seems to be the fast paced vinyasa flows or the 100 degree hot yoga classes, because in the end, I can chalk it up to a good workout. Generally speaking, I do much better in a crazy cardio class, with music so loud you can't hear yourself think.

So you can see my problem with becoming a yogi, right? The whole "silence your mind" part of practicing yoga gets me every time... it's probably also why I can't seem to stick to a regular meditation practice, despite my husband's efforts to make this part of our daily routine.

BUT the thing is.. the people I know that practice yoga regularly don't do it for the workout. Yes, yoga has physical benefits, but the real beauty of yoga seems to come from the mental and spiritual aspects of a practice. The hardcore yoginis I know (and everyone knows at least one..) seem to be so happy, balanced, and healthy. They're always so smooth and go-with-the-flow, two qualities that I simultaneously admire and lack. So there has to be something to yoga that I'm missing--something worth exploring.

I figured this month-long trial would be a good time to get over my yoga-aversion and finally focus on yoga for the sake of yoga, rather than yoga for the sake of a workout.

I signed up for the 'gentle flow' class, which I thought would strike a good balance between a workout and something that would be easier for a pregnant lady. I know I know, clearly I couldn't fully let go of my yoga-as-a-workout mentality!

I got home from work around 4:45 and quickly rushed to my class (the irony of rushing to yoga wasn't lost on me), ready to work up a sweat and get my 'om' on.

The bump on our way to class!
Well, the class was almost entirely dedicated to breathing, centering our thoughts, and gentle stretching... literally everything that I struggle with. I immediately felt challenged. My breathing seemed shallower than it should, my thoughts seemed to be focused on dinner plans, and I felt self conscious of everyone around me who seemed to be getting it.

But despite a rocky start (seriously, how can I suck at breathing...?), I felt myself really enjoying the slow flow of the class and the gentle movements. By the time we hit the mat for savasana, I felt totally relaxed. As in, please turn off the light and leave me here for the night.

I can't say I'm miraculously better at centering myself--and my thoughts were never still, per se. But they were definitely slower by the time I walked out of the studio and I can see myself signing up for another class and another dose of stillness. I feel like, if anything, it was an emotional workout.. which seems to be something I need more of in my life.

The rest of the night included a quick an easy dinner that I threw together in record time: A caprese sandwich, with extra caprese salad on the side, and olives. I felt like it was perfect summer dinner, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to eat some of the farm stand tomatoes!

I'm off to curl up on the couch with our puppies. Somehow, I don't think I'll have a problem focusing on a bowl of ice cream tonight :)


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