3/4/14

Yogi Chronicles: What My First 10 Weeks Have Taught Me

yoga, beginner, beginner yoga, UCSB, yoga class
For the past ten weeks, I have been taking a beginner's yoga class through UC Santa Barbara's Leisure Review courses. The class meets for two hours every Tuesday night at 5:15 pm. Below are some of the insights I have gained as a newbie yogi during my first-ever yoga class. Namaste!

1. My yoga pants finally went to yoga.
My sister is a Division 1 athlete who loves to work out. As such, she has made fun of me for a very long time about the fact that my yoga pants have never actually been to yoga. So, this is the first check off the list!

2. Being in the "not knowing."
On the first day of class, while we were meditating on our yoga mats, the teacher said, "Just be in the not knowing." At first, I was like, "Huh?" Gradually, I came to realize what being in the "not knowing" was and how beneficial it could be. Being in the "not knowing" is all about being in the moment: in that studio, on that mat, focusing on your breath. It's not about worrying about all the if's and's or but's swirling around your life as soon as class concludes. Being in the "not knowing" is a well-earned mental vacation.

3. It's all about the breath.
From taking yoga, I have learned about the importance of the breath. If you take the time to think about it, we are only really conscious of our breath in times of "stress" such as when we're crying heavily, during a strenuous workout, panic attacks, etc. My teacher taught me it is equally important to start training yourself to appreciate your breath during times of "calm" such as while meditating, relaxing, stretching, etc. in order to increase focus and centered energies.

4. Going without technology for two hours is amazing.
The yoga class runs for about two hours. One day, at about the hour and a half mark, I had the epiphany, "Oh my gosh. I haven't had to worry about an e-mail, text, or call for over an hour! This is AWESOME." My phone goes off all the time, and it can sometimes be overwhelming. In that regard, yoga has been my saving grace to go off the grid and just have some serious me time.

5. Increased self-awareness.
Yoga gives you an incredible sense of self-awareness. Through various meditations and poses, you learn so much about yourself both mentally and physically. Mentally, you gradually pinpoint the stressors in your life and how to replace them with more positive, motivational thoughts that keep you better engaged during class and later throughout the day. Physically, you begin to really listen to your body, its needs, and you gain an increased awareness from your head to your toes. Because that's who you are! This amazing being somewhere in between your head and your toes. If you are anything like me, you're very much head-centric and lost in your thoughts. Yoga taught me to be spread those head-centric thoughts all throughout my body, which essentially re-distributes those energies to something a lot more manageable.

6. Yoga is kindergarten for grown-ups.
One day, while we were lying on our backs on our mats with our legs gripped to our chests and rolling side to side I started softly laughing. Looking around the class, we all looked like a bunch of rambunctious kindergarteners right before nap time. That's when I realized that yoga is essentially an excuse for grown-ups to act like kindergarteners, and not have a care in the world but bending your body into funny pretzel shapes and rolling around on colorful floor mats.

7. How to learn your limits.
Through yoga, you will learn your limits. Remember, I am a yogi newbie. There are some positions (*cough* scorpion pose *cough*) whose level I am just not at yet. And you know what? This is totally ok. Yoga teaches you it's ok to move at your own pace, which is a great life lesson as well.

8. It's totally normal to space out on your mat.
Whenever possible, always stay for the entirety of your yoga class. In the class I am taking, some of students leave before the 10-15 minute end-of-class meditation. Yes, you literally just have a mini nap time on your mat. However, it brings the class full circle. That concluding meditation is when I space out on my mat, collect my thoughts, and rally for whatever I have to do the rest of the day outside of class. I mean, who couldn't use a 15 minute pseudo nap time?

9. Drink water (and often).
During yoga, you keep your water bottle right next to your mat and periodically reach for it during your class. In light of yoga teaching me newfound body appreciation, I have adopted that practice into my daily routine. I now walk around with my reusable water bottle, and periodically drink and refill it throughout the day. Ten weeks down, I have noticed a significant increase in my energy levels, the health of my skin, and decreased food cravings. Try it out!

10. Always surpress laughter when your teacher makes (unintentional) sexual noises or a fellow classmate farts mid-class. It's yoga. These things happen.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Hold in the laughter, fellow yogis. Or, learn how to hide your soft laughter with a super spazztic cough cover-up like I have!

11. Namaste is actually really beautiful.
At the end of every class, we close with a namaste prayer. Before actually taking a yoga class, I always thought namaste was some sort of a granola-eating hippie phrase for, "Love the earth," or, "Just breathe," or something along those cheesy lines. In actuality, namaste means: the divine in my honors the divine in you. Wow. Namaste is a truly beautiful thought, gesture, and attitude to take with you into your life outside of yoga.

12. Appreciating your body.
Besides self-awareness, yoga teaches you to appreciate your body. We all have our body insecurities. The first time I distinctly remember breaking down my own insecurities was when I took an Art History course in college, and learned that the definition of beauty for the female form has changed over time. I really related to one painting of a woman in particular and thought, "That's me!" Hearing my professor ramble about the beauty, shape, and lines of this woman for 45 minutes gave me an appreciation for my own body. I can officially say taking yoga is my second breakdown of those same insecurities. Yoga puts you in pose shapes that really force you to see and touch every part of your body. From this, you really see the beauty in not only the human body, but your body.

13. Drop a "Let it Go" Frozen reference whenever possible.
My yoga teacher constantly tells us to, "Let it go." The best response? Start humming out Disney's Frozen's "Let it Go" for some mid-pose laughs. Always a crowd pleaser.

14. Yoga is something I genuinely look forward to in my weekly routine.
I have really fallen in love with yoga. Every week, I look forward to my yoga class. No matter how stressed or tired I might feel walking into class, I always leave feeling refreshed, reinvigorated, and inspired. Always. There are few things in my life I can say that about, so I have really grown to appreciate my weekly yoga class.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE YOGA for all of these reasons (except the "Let It Go" reference, but that's because I never thought of it). This is inspiring me to go more.... Well, at least I'll try and go tomorrow.. Maybe.

    Miss you!

    xxKelly
    http://wherebeautymeetsthebeach.blogspot.com

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