Saying an activity has changed my life may seem overly dramatic. It’s certainly a bold statement — to contend that before yoga, I was a different person than I am today.
But that’s exactly right, and I think in many ways, embracing yoga, even when — or perhaps especially when — it did not come easy, has helped me unlock the person I’m supposed to be.
For years here on the blog, I’ve shared some of the ups and downs of my practice, particularly my efforts to get into a handstand. As recently as May, I was working to see the silver lining in something I wanted so badly but continued to fail at.
So, I kept teaching my PiYo Strength classes, and taking power yoga at least once a week. I kept taking my daughter to family yoga classes every weekend, and continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with my practice, even without handstand. I kept going upside down in headstand, and learning new poses. I didn’t give up on myself, or yoga, even though I’d given up on this one move.
And then, it clicked. One day, after falling over and over (and over and over), I found myself in tears. I just could not believe that I had put in so much work and was not seeing it pay off. And so, I decided to STOP working. And to just give up on handstand. To find other challenges and alternate ways of keeping yoga in my life.
For some reason, freeing myself of the burden of failing is exactly what it took to succeed. Just a week after that cathartic cry-fest on the mat, I just felt like being upside down. I took a deep breath, rooted my arms, looked a few inches in front of my hands and lifted my feet.
They floated up. Well, in reality they swung up and I crashed my heels into the wall and almost immediately had to come down because my arms were shaking, but everything FELT like it was floating. My body, my heart…
…and that was the difference. I believed I could fly, so I did. And while I’ve had plenty of crashes and failures since then, I’m able to get into handstand every day, and it’s become an important part of my routine.
Not just handstand, or crow, or the other crazy arm balances and arm inversions I’m now able to do. Those are fun and fun to show off. But the act of taking 60-90 minutes and leaving it all on the mat…all the stress, and the sadness and the nerves and the “what ifs?” and the uncertainty of what the future may bring…well, that’s life-changing.
I know yoga may not be for everyone, but I really encourage you to give it a shot and see if it can change your life as well.
REVIEWS: Aurorae Synergy Yoga Mat and Manduka Pro Yoga Mat
I’m not generally a superstitious person, but I also think that my magic mats may have helped turn the tide. The team at Aurorae Yoga sent me the Synergy mat a few months ago (DISCLOSURE!), and the day I went up into handstand was also the first day I’d started using the mat. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but ever since, that mat has been my go-to for inversions, arm balances and particularly, my weekly power yoga class, which is held in a heated room.
The Synergy has a yoga towel actually built into it — a microfiber towel that totally takes away any slipping or wiggling. Truly, I would (and will) recommend this as the very best mat for people who practice in warm rooms or fall out of poses. It has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and is washable, so you don’t have to worry about it getting stinky or gross because it’s so absorbent.
The other mat that I use every day, including for all of the classes I teach, is the Legendary Black Mat® PRO from Manduka (affiliate link) which YogaOutlet.com sent me a few months ago. It’s significantly thicker than the Aurorae, and when I’m using it on a hard floor (the tiles at home or the wood at the fitness studio) I find that it’s perfect for protecting my wrists and knees. It also has a sticky texture to it, so I’m able to stay very steady when holding poses for several seconds or even a minute.