“Clear your mind. Take a deep breath.” As someone with asthma and ADHD, that is terrible advice. In all the yoga classes I had tried, I was bored, easily distracted and grossed out by the musty smell of other people sweating profusely within arms length of me.
Nope. Yoga was not for me. Or so I thought…
Don’t get me wrong, yoga is a great practice for some people, but I really didn’t feel it was for me. No matter the type – bikram, gentle, vinyasa; I couldn’t settle my mind, I was easily distracted by all the small noises around me and I was restless. And frustrated. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing right? Well, it wasn’t.
Then one day in April 2016, while going to PT for a muscle injury, I decided to give yoga another try. I figured it would help me in my recovery. My cousin practices everyday and even teaches. Many of my friends talk about how they love yoga. I bought a Groupon for a month of free yoga classes. I was determined to make an actual effort to experience all yoga had to offer.
The studio I chose is called Play Yoga Studio in Peabody, MA. Based on the pictures I could find online, it looked like a very inviting and relaxing space, which was my number one priority.
When I arrived for my first class, a beginner level, I immediately knew I had made the right decision with choosing this studio. Based in an old estate home facing the Peabody reservoir, the view from the studio is incredible. I felt like I was in this beautiful, natural, cabin on a lake. Perfect for relaxing.
Yeah, that’s where I practice folks. Ambience is everything.
But let’s rewind to my first class for a minute. I was shy and inexperienced. I beelined for the back corner, nearest the door. I wanted to be sure I could run away quickly if need be.
That first class was a doozy. By the end of the hour, I hated downward dog and I was tired and sore. My arms and wrists felt like jello. I did like the instructor who helped me make modifications to poses that I couldn’t quite master. Anthony Tomasi is the owner and one of the instructors and has an enormous amount of patience. (Must be all that yoga).
Because of my asthma, I came prepared with my inhaler, just in case. But by the end of the class, my lungs already felt a little clearer and by the end of my first week, I was definitely breathing easier and even feeling a little stronger.
Buying a Groupon is a great way to stay committed. You’ve invested your hard earned cash. You can’t back out now. So I kept going to yoga, about 3 times a week. My downward dog was getting better and I was definitely gaining more confidence in nailing my poses and holding them. My favorite pose is and will always be warrior two.
Don’t tell anyone, but I think I was starting to enjoy yoga and the meditation that went along with it. I’m still not totally convinced about the whole 3rd eye thing and don’t ask me to explain chakras because what? But seriously, I was starting to really see and feel the benefits.
Fast forward to this month, September. I go once a week to restorative yoga at Play Yoga Studio, (my most favorite class in the world). I also recently rejoined the local YMCA. I have tried a couple of Vinyasa Flow classes there, but haven’t found that perfect class/instructor combo yet. Now I know though that I just have to stick with it because there are clear benefits to regular practice.
Ok, so what are those benefits? I won’t go into tons of detail because the benefits are different for everyone, but for me…
The biggest benefit is relaxation. I, like so many, am going 90 miles an hour and I never stop. When I do stop, my brain keeps going. While it took me several classes to learn to focus on just one thing (usually my breathing), I did get there.
Another benefit was the breathing. Having asthma has always affected my athletic abilities. Yoga (along with medication) has helped my lungs stay clear and open.
Also, I’m sleeping better. This is why I love Sunday Slowdown. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dozed off in class. (I haven’t been caught snoring…yet).
I do feel stronger. I can see the difference in my muscle tone. I’m able to hold poses longer than I could that first class. (So like 20 seconds instead of 10).
Overall, I really do enjoy yoga. For me, gentler paced classes like restorative or Hatha yoga are perfect, but I recommend trying a few types of yoga with different instructions before committing to anywhere. The peaceful surroundings of Play Yoga studio and the awesome instructors there are what got me to keep coming back.
Do any of you beautiful people practice yoga? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below!