After making the transition from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I was in desperate need of normalcy. Moving, life changes, work, it was all in flux and I knew that yoga was the constant that kept me grounded and focused when I needed it the most. Not only that, but my physician and ayurvedic health specialist and long recommended subbing out running for regular yoga or tai chi due to adrenal fatigue (more on that later). Even though we didn't really have a place to live yet, I knew that my first and foremost priority had to be finding a new yoga studio.
After making the transition from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I was in desperate need of normalcy. Moving, life changes, work… it was all in flux and I knew that yoga was the constant that kept me grounded and focused when I needed it the most. Not only that, but my physician and ayurvedic health specialist had long recommended subbing out running for regular yoga or tai chi due to adrenal fatigue (more on that later). Even though we didn’t really have a place to live yet, I knew that my first and foremost priority had to be finding a new yoga studio.
It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon a studio within walking distance of our temporary home, and lucky for me, they were offering a new student special. $49 for unlimited yoga for 30 days. Not a bad deal. It was just the thing I needed to finally establish a regular yoga routine. Plus, I couldn’t quite remember having done anything for 30 days straight. What can I say? I get easily distracted. But, I was committed. I was on a mission to do yoga every day for 30 days.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t hit my goal of 30 days, but I came VERY close, and frankly, it was the most consistent I’ve been with any type of workout in a while.
Although I didn’t make it to the mat every day, I was still quite impressed with the tangible benefits of consistently practicing.
Now, I’m not going to paint a super rosy picture about my experience. It was far from the beautiful, graceful and elegant pictures you see of yogis on Instagram. Between Chaturangas (low planks) and Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), by day six, I felt like I had been training for a marathon instead of practicing yoga. Some days my body cooperated, and some days I resorted to child’s pose. Some days were easy, and many days, I just couldn’t will my body into doing what I wanted it to do. Intense? Yes. Amazing? Yes. Frustrating? Not in the very least bit.
But it’s worth mentioning here that this idea (your body may not always “cooperate”) is one of the foundations of yoga and that’s why you’ll often hear yogis refer to yoga as a “practice”.
There is no “nailing yoga” the first time around. Some days your body will bend and twist. other days it won’t.
The point is that the more you do it, the more your body will transform. You just have to practice, practice, practice, both literally and figuratively.
Can you remember the last time you felt pure joy? I’m not talking about the fake stuff. Happiness, deep down in your soul. It may sound corny, but by the end of the first week, it’s exactly how I felt. I’m not an overly happy person and I certainly can’t remember the last time I felt “joy”. (Trust me, there’s a difference between happiness and joy). But on a random day, while walking home from yoga, I noticed something odd. Not only did I feel amazing, but I had a huge smile on my face to prove it.
“The opposite of [such] conditional happiness is unconditional happiness, a state that allows us to find contentment in any situation, whether we are uncomfortable in a yoga pose or stuck in a traffic jam. When we let go of our narrow idea of happiness and open ourselves to all experiences, we take the first step toward santosha (contentment). One of the guiding principles of classical yoga philosophy, santosha has been described as a ‘peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires.'”
Numerous studies have shown that santosha isn’t some yogic philosophy, yoga does have the ability to increase feelings of happiness. By being present, deep breathing, and taking “power poses,” it all ads up to one blissed-out hour of going deep and unearthing what truly makes you happy. (Another spoiler alert: happiness can only be found on the inside.)
And last but, not least, I experienced a greater sense of clarity and groundedness. I can’t contribute this all to yoga, because I meditate on the daily, but decision making became a little easier, I was more in tune with my greater sense of purpose, and I was able to think more strategically both personally and professionally. It was like the antidote to cure my living in a perpetual state of entrepreneurial fog.
If you’ve ever considered yoga, give it a chance. I can’t say that you’ll love it right out of the gate, but I bet if you give it time, you’ll find your own reasons why it’ll become part of your self-care.
Toni Carey is the founder of Keeping Balanced, a place where women can learn how to keep it all together, while living their best life possible. When she's not writing, you can find her running or practicing yoga in and around Washington, D.C.