I remember walking in the studio for the first time, timid yet eager to embark on this new journey. I was greeted by so many friendly people in such a small, zen area. Stacey, the teacher, had a toned figure, sparkling eyes, and silky gray hair falling just below her shoulders. I wanted to do yoga not so much for the physical benefit, but to silence the everyday screams and worries of my mind. I was not ready to surrender to my anxiety, not yet. I knew yoga was the place I may let my body and mind to coexist without battling each other. Yoga is my safe haven. I don’t need special equipment, or physical space, I just need my mind, body and my desire to receive clarity from my practice. At a time where I wanted safety and lucidity, at a time where I needed to be uplifted, I found yoga. I am forever grateful.
The art of moving your body through sequences of poses and breathing sounds strange. I never understood that this ancient expressive art would have an impact on a person like myself. Yoga is not changing yourself to fit a stereotype, or changing your personal spiritual beliefs; it is working with the beautiful body and brain you were given and learning to accept everything that comes with it. In doing this, you can be happy and peaceful each day. Instead of everyday workouts: cycling, running on a treadmill, or weightlifting, etc., this incredible art encompasses the heart space—so it is not just about a physicality. It works to benefit all parts of the body, not just to burn calories. Each person may say their own intentions for their own practice. Everything is personalized, even in a class-type yoga setting.
Yoga has brought me so much peace not only within myself, but it has helped me bring peace to others. Now, five years after I have started, yoga has helped me accept and cope with my anxiety. Yoga has helped me love my body. I feel strong: emotionally and physically. I feel beautiful. This art is not something that only a select group of people may be talented at—it really is for everyone. Sure, some people are naturally gifted with a particular way their body is able to move or be flexible, but it is not about that. It is about what you put into it: the more you practice, the more you learn about yourself, your body, and even the world around you. I learn new poses and test my limits every single class. It is my escape, my challenge, and my safe haven all at once.
There have even been moments where I just swell with emotion. I cry, I laugh, I smile. I remember once in my first year of yoga leaving class and just tearing up from sheer joy. The greatest part about yoga is that it is a lifestyle. The benefits of the art stay with you long after you leave the mat. I had never been an athlete, artist, singer, or anything. I had always felt like I was someone who just never found her “niche” or her “thing” and just when I was starting to accept how sad that was, I found yoga. I believe in fate and that life always has a way of giving us what we need. I needed yoga, and it found me right when I found it. A Rumi quote that is posted in the yoga studio I attend says, “What we seek is seeking us.” This describes my journey with yoga. I am no expert. I learn new things each time I practice, be it at home or at a studio. I am learning about myself, the world, and the practice of yoga itself. Yoga and I were seeking each other, and the bliss that I express and hold each time I practice or speak about yoga is magical.
I believe that everyone can benefit from this art. So try it, even if it sounds like the last thing you would ever do. Even if you just put yourself on a mat and start recognizing the importance of your breath, your whole world could change.