Let me start off by giving a little back ground about myself. Since the age of 7 I have been in fitness my entire life, mainly martial arts. I found yoga my freshman year in college, right at the beginning of training for my black belt. I don't exactly remember when my teachers started noticing my kicks were getting higher and my family noticed I wasn't such a hot head. Being 18 and in college, I was not fully aware of my body and only slightly noticed. I do remember thinking though, "wow these yoga clothes are great! I could spend all day in them!" Ironically enough I spend all my time now in comfy yoga clothes! Anyways, back to my story, after the semester was over and I received my black belt, I slowed down with yoga. I did GAIAM yoga videos or went on occasion to classes in the gym I worked at.
Now in early 2012 I began heavy weight lifting and became so focused on diet and "body sculpting" (making my body look a certain way- yes I know, not healthy at all). Now I stretched, foam rolled, had body work (my mom is a sports massage therapist) but didn't realize how tight I had gotten. I was only making time for my precious work outs and not time to go to a yoga class or get on the mat.
Almost caught up now, hang in there! In the fall of 2012, two amazing women came into my life and began taking my Gravity Pilates class, which is really a fancy name for that machine Chuck Norris sells on infomercials. Every Tuesday at 9am they would come to class talking about what they had done the day before in yoga class. I'd hear stories of how tight or in pain they would be and how yoga has helped them through it, elongating the muscles, joints not aching, gaining more flexibility, and less pain in areas. I was so inspired by them. I began looking into classes and getting a yoga teacher certificate. I knew a change needed to happen for me and this seemed to be the right one. I confided in them that I was looking at certification programs and for some reason they all seemed to be much farther away. They both told me their studio in Pleasanton, CA has a program. No, it did not occur to me to look in my own town for yoga studios or programs.
That brings us to 2013, I found the program literally a week before it started but it was already halfway through. The teacher of the program let me take a class and interview with her. To this day, weeks from graduating, I still don't know how I managed to get into this program with as little of yoga I had been doing and being such a meat head. I will be eternally grateful to Kate, my instructor, for taking a chance on me and believing in me enough to bring me into the Advanced Studies Program at Downtown Yoga in Pleasanton, CA.
Here is what you are all waiting for I'm sure, how did one seemingly simple thing like yoga change my entire life? I can list the obvious things, more flexibility, strength, and calmed my temper as I pointed out early. But on a anatomical level, I began to know my body inside and out; something that body sculpting, strict diet, anatomy and athletic training classes didn't teach me. What muscles move and activate to make this tiny movement. How much my core needs to work in poses. Or how I tend to muscle through poses rather than focus on the simple things that can make the pose stronger and better.
On a spiritual/metaphysical level I always struggled meditating when I was a little girl. But to me yoga is a moving form of meditation actually helped me sit and be still, but keep my energy and chakras flowing. Learning to repose in a pose, finding stillness, not constantly readjusting and calming the mind has become easier. It also translates into everyday life. When things are hectic, busy and chaotic, taking what I've learned on the mat to one of those situations, helps tremendously.
Diet was a big change for me when I was body building, don't get me wrong it helped me in so many ways and made me realize what I need to feed my body but yoga changed that completely. Lifting heavy and eating on a super tight schedule just makes you hungry ALL the time and the cravings aren't any better. With yoga, it helped tone down those insane hunger pains and cravings. My body doesn't like certain types of food any more and certainly craves way more vegetables. I am not your typical yogi, who is all vegetarian or vegan, I LOVE me some bison burgers! But I definitely don't crave it as much as I used to.
This post has become very long and there is only so much we can read, type or go into. But keep tuning in and I will elaborate more on these aspects of my life, balance and yoga of course!
Thanks for reading!
Samantha of Body SAMantix