My yoga journey is an interesting one. It started in my junior or senior year of college. I’m not quite sure which, but I remember it being a time when I had to start taking 1 hour electives. This particular semester, I decided to get serious about getting fit again, so amongst my schedule of Biology and Chemistry classes were pilates, yoga and ballroom dancing.
I remember how after my first yoga class, I was telling a friend that I felt muscles hurting in places where I didn’t even know muscles existed. I also remember my yoga teacher being this really tall, awkward looking white guy who did things with his body he didn’t look like he could do. I also remember the warriors (yoga poses) other than that, I don’t remember much. I don’t think I practiced again after that semester.
Next came 2010 when I was in Nigeria for an extended period of time. I’m not sure what brought me back, but I started practicing again. I remember a male friend being impressed when I told him I practiced yoga, and that made me want to practice more. Let’s just blame my youth for that. But, in my usual way, I fell off the bandwagon again. On and off my journey to being fit, strong and healthy continued in its disjointed fashion.
After that came Instagram. I followed Laura for years and was in awe of the things she could do. I mean, the woman balances on her elbows! Plus she has the cutest mini ever. For at least a couple of years I followed yogis on Instagram and dreamt of being strong and flexible like them. My main thing really was that I wanted to be strong. But the problem is that was all I did, watched. I never actually got up and practiced. Or whenever I did, it wasn’t consistent. I would practice consistently for a month at a time, and then follow with months of inactivity. This fluctuation was the same with my workout regimen in general, I just wasn’t consistent.
While I was in Baltimore, I used to buy Groupon passes for yoga classes. I went to at least four different yoga studios and got to take a bunch of power vinyasa and hot yoga classes. It was a lot of fun, and that was how I really got to see that yoga by itself can be a really good workout. Sidebar: taking classes in a yoga studio is expensive! In all my time practicing yoga, I’ve only ever come across one affordable studio. That was in Colorado, it was/is a donation-based studio, where you come in make a donation and get to take a class. Absolutely fabulous.
But then, the time came around when I was going to be jobless for a long period. I stopped working in June 2014, and knew that the next phase of my life would take a while to begin. I decided that I would spend my time of inactivity improving myself physically and spiritually. I wanted to make time with God and healthy living a habit; I was going to spend my time working out and getting closer to God. September 2014 was when I started the 3030 challenge with Joyce Meyer. I also picked up an eight week workout program that I followed consistently.
During this period, I would do yoga once or twice a week. As my 8 weeks drew to a close, I started stalking more and more yogis on Instagram. And I just knew that the only way to get where I wanted to be, at least to get my body where I wanted it to be, was to just start. So in November I decided to open an Instagram account to hold myself accountable. In future posts, I’ll talk about yoga in depth. But I decided to use yoga not only to get stronger physically but also spiritually. Since I started this journey of being closer to God, I intend to use yoga to help facilitate that process.
There’s a really great yoga community on Instagram and I love being a part of it. It’s so easy to be inspired and just by sharing my journey I found that I’m inspiring other people. I’ve noticed that improvement in my strength and flexibility. And I’m using yoga to work on my patience; it needs major improvement. On Instagram, each month I decide to do 1, 2 or 4 (last month I did 4) yoga challenges. A yoga challenge on instagram pretty much is hosted by specific yogis; what happens is they post a picture of a specific pose and if you’re participating in the challenge, you post your variation of that pose and use the hashtag for the challenge. I love doing challenges because they push me out of my comfort zone. I’m forced to try poses that I mentally don’t think my body is ready for and I sometimes find out that my body is actually ready and able to do them. I do things physically that I don’t expect to be able to or think I’m capable of and I really love that.
Doing challenges also holds me accountable because if I commit to participating in a challenge for a certain number of days or a whole month, I always want to post the pose of the day. This forces me each day to get on my mat; in order to take a picture for the day I have to at least stretch, even if it’s just for five minutes, before I attempt the pose of the day. I hardly ever take a picture without warming up first.
In addition, my Instagram account serves as a sort of yoga journal. It helps me track my progress and I get to see how my body has changed over time in certain poses. I also see how far I’ve come when I look back and see that a pose I couldn’t get into a few weeks ago is now available to me. Taking pictures also helps me see my form. I can look at my body and learn from it and attempt to modify body parts/positioning in order to better get into a pose. For now, yoga is my only workout and I think it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about yoga, the different kinds, what my practice looks like, share details on specific poses, where to start from and so on. In the mean time however, I will say this. The only way to get started is to just start. Do some research and see what you can and can’t do, be safe, don’t force your body to do anything it’s not ready for. If you have any request, let me know in the comments section! And don’t forget to check out my Instagram page: @yogahermit.
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