After years of deliberation and sorry excuses, I decided to take the leap and attend my first yoga class. That was 4 months ago and I have since been to about 40 classes and began dating a wonderful woman.
I’m a male in my early 30’s. I grew up playing sports and continued to do so at a competitive level in college, and a not so competitive level after college (beer leagues). I guess you could call me a “Bro.” I always envisioned yoga as a “hippie” activity that was stretching and not much else. I have come to find out there is so much more to yoga that I could have applied to my life at a much earlier age, but I would’ve been embarrassed admitting so at the time.
I took my first class as somewhat of a dare. One of my old teammates from college challenged me to take a 90-minute hot yoga class. He claimed it would be as difficult as any sport’s “practice” I have participated in, I would feel amazing when the class was complete and with any luck, I might meet a nice woman or two. Early on, he was correct only about the first two statements.
I went into class thinking it was a competition. I wanted to be great at yoga and sweat as much as I could. Even though I may not have been as flexible as others, I was trying my hardest to contort my body into positions it quite honestly was not ready to be in. I could have injured myself, but I wanted to be the best yogi in the class. It took me quite some time to figure out yoga is all about being the best yogi to oneself. As long as you’re growing each class, emotionally and spiritually, you are the best.
I soon came to learn I was trying too hard. The studio is a judgment-free zone and I needed to let go and surrender. It took an “act of gas” for me to figure this out. I truly believe what made me realize this was when one of the students during my fifth or sixth class accidentally passed gas. I was the only one in the class giggling and I realized nobody else was. I looked like a foolish schoolboy, but it wasn’t because everyone was pretentious. Each student was so focused on the moment that they blocked out the noise. The point is, nobody cared. The studio is a sanctuary where you should be able to shut the outside world off. There are no deadlines, bills, phone calls, emails to reply to or diapers to change. It’s you, your mat and your breath.
The more I practiced, the more I noticed the physical benefits too. Old knee and shoulder injuries felt better than they had in years. I was more flexible than I had been in my entire life. Because I was alternating heated classes with non-heated classes, yoga was also forcing me to drink more water. I never wanted to feel too full during a class, so I began eating healthier too.
Guess what followed after all of these amazing changes? My confidence was at an all-time high. I began to socialize more often on a daily basis, in and out of the studio. I became more focused and my work improved. I earned a promotion! The cherry on top was meeting an amazing woman I never in a million years would have had the courage to speak to before stepping onto my mat.
I’m not claiming you start a yoga practice and $1,000,000 will fall from the sky or a genie will appear from the vents and you’re granted 3 wishes. I was the last person I thought would benefit so greatly from yoga. If you open up your heart and mind, amazing things can happen. I will be encouraging and possibly even “daring” some of my other buddies to try practicing yoga in the future.