Yoga for the Half Yogi
I have long been a regular practitioner of wearing Yoga clothing (Lole and Lucy, I’m looking at you), and not so good about having a regular Yoga practice. I have never been excited about fitness – I grew up chasing a soccer ball and it left an anti-fitness mark – and a few attempts at Yoga post-college left me thinking I wasn’t spiritual enough to “really engage.”
I am jokingly calling myself the half yogi because I am not as serious about Yoga that others may be in two ways: The first, part of the benefit for me in Yoga becoming such a huge trend is the clothing (it seriously is so comfortable), which is not actually what Yoga is about, but I’m clearly on board for that part. The second, part of Yoga is hardcore spiritual and sometimes a bit out of my comfort zone. So even when I practice Yoga, a part of me sighs wishing it away.
But that video is why Yoga is for me. Lots of sweating, awesome poses and music that motivates. Four years ago, my Mom and I started going to CorePower Yoga and Vinyasa Flow felt right – a balance of fitness, stress therapy, sweat lodge, and supportive teachers. My Mom has had a regular practice over the years while I faded in and out (buying a house, falling in love, getting a dog, cooking with butter and cream…). Now, with wedding dress fittings coming up in a few months, it was an easy decision to reinstate my membership and just go. I’m not one to leave my house unless it’s to go to an Anthropologie sale (sort of kidding here, but I just went yesterday and it’s a good sale), the grocery store or work, and it is the biggest obstacle I face when it comes to Yoga. But I remind myself of what happens every time I’m in the first minute of practice on my mat, inhaling the hot dry air: I inevitably say to myself this next hour is mine and stress therapy is complete, so I can move onto sweating and contorting my body in ways that will benefit me tomorrow.
Leaving the house may be a mental barrier, but the actual (and now second) challenge of mine the past two weeks has been getting my core back in shape. To get a jump start, I’ve been visiting Meghan Currie’s blog and watching her videos. She’s the same woman from the Lululemon video above. Side note: did you know that holding plank position is more beneficial than 1000 crunches? I love that. I could go on about physical benefits, but college friend and yogi Annie Peterson wrote a great piece – “Hot Yoga Changed My Life and Spirit Animal” – on The Hairpin (you can read the full piece here) and captures it perfectly:
“…hot yoga is the shit, and I have been addicted for the last three years of my life. I have defined abs, I have Michelle Obama arms, I have much-improved posture. I can do handstands and weird arm balances that defy gravity. I can beat most of my male friends in a push-up contest. I have the self-confidence to declare these things.”
The third and often hilarious challenge of Yoga is that sometimes Yoga can feel a bit pretentious (link here for a rant on that), but if you find the right bits of reading and media to assure you Yoga is not for nut jobs, you can keep the parts that feel right and ignore the rest. A book that captures that is Poser, which my Mom read and had couriered to me the next day. This book is definitely for those who read slowly through the Italy parts and quickly through the Yoga part of Eat, Pray, Love. I can always tell a teacher who has read Poser because they say “Stay calm” or “It’s okay to shake – it means you’re alive” when holding a pose for longer than usual and you are, most definitely, shaking like you may break an arm.
I will still be a yoga-clothing yogi wearing my Lucy lounge pants (these are on sale, and actually very comfortable), but for the New Year, I’ll be at CorePower trying to master the mind, and build the muscle to do this: