Flexibility and Athleticism
What do you think of when you hear the word “yoga”? Is it a fitness class where you get to wear your favorite Lululemon leggings (or some other outrageously expensive pair!)? When I first started yoga, I was fresh out of college and had just moved down to Pacific Beach, San Diego. My cousin, who lived nearby, introduced me to yoga. She took me to a very sweaty heated class at CorePower. THAT is what I thought yoga was. A place where all the trendy 20-something year-olds went to sweat as much as possible.
My first experience was so challenging, but at the same time amazing. I had somehow retained some of the flexibility I had acquired as a childhood gymnast and felt like yoga was something I was naturally pretty good at. The TRUTH was that I was probably doing many poses incorrectly! I wasn’t focused on alignment at all, but rather on keeping up and pushing myself. That’s how injuries happen. Thankfully, I dodged the injuries as newbie yogi. Whew.
This newbie was HOOKED though. I felt great after yoga– physically and mentally– and I looked fit too!
Not Just for Fitness
Don’t get me wrong, my first year of yoga was awesome. It was a way for me to sweat, and a way for me to de-stress. But, it wasn’t until I moved back up to LA for a job that I started to understand what yoga was. I tried a few studios, experiencing different yoga styles from mellow & yin classes to alignment-focused & strong classes. These foiled the heated vinyasa classes I had experienced.
Yoga class became a mental escape for me. While class was sometimes a place for me to physically exert myself, it was often where I relaxed mentally (sweat-free!).
ALIGNMENT. It is so important. Back in San Diego (after my LA job training), I decided to try some Iyengar yoga classes. WOAH. I was shocked at how focused on alignment the classes were. You were either doing the poses right or wrong, with no room for interpretation. I didn’t exactly enjoy the classes since I felt like I was doing everything wrong, BUT I finally learned how to do a “proper” downward facing dog. Took a couple years to get there!
After my handful of Iyengar classes, I decided to continue my yoga studio search in Ocean Beach, San Diego. I mean…I love hippies, the beach, and it was close by. I found my home at Happy-U Namaste. Their website’s homepage says, “We are a holistic yoga and training center guiding people towards a happier, healthier approach to life, both on and off the mat. Welcome to our community :)” Umm… doesn’t that sound just PERFECT?! Well, I thought (and still think) so.
Finally, I started learning about the roots of yoga– the history, the mythology– along with the other branches– starting with meditation and pranayama (breath control). I was eager to learn more! I eventually would sign up for their AMAZING teacher training (which I will write about in another post!). 🙂