Happy International Yoga Day!
Of course I needed to post a yoga picture for International Yoga Day! It would be silly not to!
After many attempts, and months off due to wrist pain from too many attempts, I was finally able to hold flying pigeon for a few seconds! Sorry, I had to show off a little! It has been a goal for months now. I am far from mastering this pose, but it is all about progression. After injuring myself and pushing myself too hard, I knew it was time to back off and listen to my body.
The process towards getting to this pose was HARD WORK! Practice, practice, and more practice. It is about PROGRESS, not PERFECTION!
My yoga journey started in Summer 2013 after finishing my athletic career as a collegiate diver at the University of Pittsburgh. Before diving, I was a gymnast for 13 years. As you can see, I was a big fan of being upside down, bending, twisting, etc.
I was starting graduate school at Pitt that fall and I needed something to fill my time besides studying! Going through my undergraduate degree while being a competitive athlete was like having a full time job, plus more! We trained approximately 25 hours a week in the pool, on dry land, and in the weight room. Having a life just full of studies and practicum placements seemed very confusing and lonely to me.
I decided to pick up yoga. I figured it may be the closest thing I could get to gymnastics or diving. I would love to continue to practice both sports, but both aren’t really life time sports. My senior year was filled with cortisone injections to my S1 joint. This was done just so I could finish out my senior year. I think my body thanks for me for cutting that out!
To try yoga, or to NOT try yoga!?!?!?
I remember that I was so nervous to go to the studio and try a class all by myself. At that time, I was used to being part of a team and doing EVERYTHING with teammates and roommates. This was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone and it probably took me about 2-3 weeks to actually commit to going.
The first studio I ever practiced at was Amazing Yoga in Shadyside, Pittsburgh. I took a class taught by Karen and I loved every second of it. I haven’t told many people this, but I actually started crying at the end of my first class! I know… a little embarrassing! I was amazed at how connected I felt to my body and mind. I was breathing through each pose. I let go of everything and I just flowed through the practice. For those 90 minutes I stopped controlling my body and my mind, and I surrendered. From that point on I was hooked.
I continued to practice in Shadyside at both Amazing Yoga and Yoga Flow. Whenever I visit home I also get to practice at my local yoga studio, Yoga Erie. Since moving to Oslo in 2015, I have struggled to a find studio I feel most connected with. Because of this I continue to practice on my own, but also attend vinyasa, ashtanga, and bikram classes at the local gym. It is nothing compared to the connection I had at the studios back in Pennsylvania, but for now it works.
Other than keeping me less stressed, if that is possible, I have noticed so many benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis. It doesn’t just allow me to perfect my handstands and arm balances, but it allows me to focus on my breathing, maintain my flexibility for other athletic activities, relieve stress, and be more centered.
I love how yoga makes me feel both physically and mentally. I never regret taking a class. Even if it was the worst class or I didn’t enjoy the teachers style, I adjust the practice to benefit what I need that day. Yoga allows me to escape the difficulties of the world around me. I can’t tell you how many times I hear in class, “we hold so much stress in our hips.” NO SHIT! Sometimes I go to class and I struggle with half pigeon or full pigeon. These are usually the days or weeks when I am really stressing. Listen to your body. It is really telling you something!
Whether you are a yogi, indecisive about trying a class, or looking for a change in your after work activities, I suggest giving yoga a try! Yoga is a beautiful practice and art. It isn’t all about getting to that difficult pose, but breathing through those challenges and connecting mind, body, and spirit.