How Yoga Changed Me

July 17, 2022
Posted in Wellness, Yoga
July 17, 2022 Claire

How Yoga Changed Me

I was introduced to Yoga in high school. As a dancer with a rigorous dance training, academic, and rehearsal schedule, I thought it was an excellent way to slow down. I would cross paths with Yoga through school. It was usually offered if a dance teacher was out for the day. I didn’t have a profound awakening or “aha moment,” though. It was a lovely series of movements to throw in with my already active lifestyle. During my college years, my relationship remained the same with Yoga. It wasn’t until my pivot into the fitness industry that I came across it a lot more and had opportunities to take more classes and understand it.

When I became a SoulCycle instructor, no one taught me about what recovery might look like beyond foam rolling, cross-training, and staying hydrated and nourished. Naturally, as a creative person, I searched for other forms of movement I could do outside of dance and going to the gym that wouldn’t be too intense and help me stay in alignment. When I say alignment, I mean in all facets—aligned with my spirit, mind, heart, and physical body; this was when I started to seek out Yoga. I remembered how it felt to slow down and be on the mat. I felt a great need to explore how Yoga could help me take care of and maintain a healthy body while teaching many weekly classes.

As I started to go to classes, I had this odd feeling of not feeling connected with the movement, the spaces and being thrown off by many yoga studios’ approaches to Yoga. I often didn’t look like anyone in the rooms, which I was accustomed to, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what else was making me somewhat uncomfortable. I sat with this feeling and decided to explore Yoga videos on YouTube and other online platforms for at-home Yoga. I would find myself at home getting nauseous during a yoga flow or just not that into it. I then felt defeated and felt Yoga must not be for me. I decided to do a little more research and found other yoga styles on YouTube, which changed the game for me. 

Once I found Hatha, Restorative, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar, and Yin yoga, is when I began to explore. I gravitated towards Hatha Yoga and later found its cousin, Yin Yoga. Yin yoga changed the game for me. The active lifestyle as a cycling instructor, singer/songwriter, and dancer gave me no time to slow down in a meaningful way. The deep stretch and focus on the fascia while aiming to meditate in each pose was what I needed for my lifestyle. My body recovered better after multiple classes a day, and my mind and spirit felt at ease after I finished a flow. I understood that Vinyasa is doable for me but does not always agree with me, and that it’s okay. Finding a style of Yoga that did agree with me became the goal.

I also realized Yoga (especially in major cities like NYC and LA, where I live) gave me too much of a “workout” angle that felt off-putting. I wanted to explore Yoga to escape the “workout” approach since I taught an intense cardio workout. My reasoning was to investigate the connection between body, mind, and spirit. I don’t want my Yoga to be focused on sculpting, burning, hip-hop playlists for motivation, or another trend commercial fitness placed on the practice. In researching, I asked myself, “Why not focus on how to connect with yourself beyond the physical and understand what the practice means for you as an individual?”

Once I understood my personal goal, Yoga started to change my life. Hatha yoga gave me the discipline I was used to as a dancer. Ashtanga was there if I wanted to push my body and try new things. Restorative was excellent during those back-to-back weeks. Yin yoga became my saving grace, so I got certified to teach it. 

It was yin I desperately needed when my world could be so yang. I’m happy I took the time to find out what Yoga looks and feels like for me. It changes as I change, but it’s always there. I will always agree with the phrase “yoga is for everyBODY” because it’s true. We get caught up in how it’s presented on a commercial scale, and many of us who don’t fit a certain body standard, class, or race tend to feel left out, or like it’s not for us. Quite the contrary, it’s for everyone. Don’t let ads, studios, or anyone else tell you what’s for you. I encourage you to find it for yourself. That journey connects you to a profoundly unique and personal practice that can change your life if you let it.