Today, I would like to share my journey back to my mat. My yoga mat, that is.
Back in January, I went in for my usual yearly check up with my family Dr. Now I love her, she has always been very helpful and given my concerns the appropriate amount of attention but I was not ready for what she had to tell me.
I like to think I am relatively healthy. I don’t binge regularly or emotionally eat like I did when I was younger. I do enjoy life though. Clearly between my busy and high stress new work assignment and my indulgences, my health was suffering in ways I was not aware of.
She dropped the O bomb…obese. She said I was overweight and wanted to know what I had changed to cause my recent weight gain. I couldn’t think of anything on the spot so we tested my thyroid. When the blood work came back normal, I had to face the truth. My health was not as good as I thought. She told me she would like to see me lose 5-10 pounds and felt my most recent ailments might improve.
More than a little disgruntled, I went home to lick my wounds. No, I did not drown my sorrows in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. I got up the next day and headed to the gym. I signed up and did an evaluation with a trainer. We set up a program that worked for me but just wasn’t exciting. I hate cardio, I hate running but I was determined to do it because my health is important.
I found the gym had 4 yoga classes a week during my available times so I decided that I would attend all that I could and then workout 3 times a week. The first yoga class was hard. I had not practiced in 5 years. I survived it though and I felt good afterwards.
My next class was much easier and I learned that muscle memory rocks! I felt like I had never left my practice. After a couple weeks, I found myself looking forward to yoga more than my workouts. After 6 weeks of sticking to my schedule, I wanted more. I wanted to feel the way I did on my mat every time I exercised. I remembered trying hot yoga years ago and enjoying it. A friend recommended a local place that had $5 community classes. I figured it couldn’t hurt, it’s just one class, no commitment. I am not going to lie, the class was HOT and hard! Here was the challenge I was looking for. I signed up for a 40 day pass wondering if I would use it much. If I used it even 3 times in the 40 days, it would have paid for itself.
In 40 days, I used it 26 times! I have since become a community member. I found myself wanting to go all the time. Not in a frantic way, just in a peaceful, I love the way I feel after a class way. The instructors have all been terrific and I have grown so much in my practice already. When I enter the studio, I feel like I am home. My outlook on life has always been very yogi-like but I had no idea how great I would feel making yoga a daily part of my life.
I hit my mat 6-7 days per week….yes you read that right. Days I don’t practice, I sometimes have trouble sleeping. I do a couple days per week of non-heated yoga at my gym and then I go to hot yoga the rest of the time. I learn something different from each instructor.
I have lost weight, lost pain, lowered my blood pressure and gained strength! I feel very different already than I did when I began. I hope that I never lose my need to practice. I am much more mindful of what I eat and no longer crave junk. Your eating habits and mindset truly change when you bring yoga into your life. You start to see ways you hold yourself back, we are our own worst enemies sometimes.
The other night was the ultimate experience in my journey. I was on my mat, in warrior 2, watching the sweat roll off my arms. I felt…..beautiful and strong. I felt like I was enough and I belonged exactly where I was at that moment. It was the first time I truly felt beautiful that had nothing to do with the exterior body or outside influences. In that moment, it was just me and my mat, even though I was surrounded by people. I will never forget that. I wish everyone could experience that feeling, it is truly life changing.
The only thing is, I *may* have a mat obsession, although with hot yoga, it’s good to have multiple mats and lots of yoga clothes!
I hope this is only the beginning of a lifelong journey to my mat.