How I Started to Love Yoga

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I’ve been spending a lot of time here lately, but I didn’t always love yoga.

I’d tried many yoga studios in New York, and they were all fine, but there was no place that I was dying to keep returning to. Some were too fast or too difficult, some were too pretentious and some were just not the right fit for me.

I started having panic attacks in September, and my therapist and Alicia both kept bringing up yoga. At first, I think I was afraid I’d ended up a sobbing mess on the mat, so I was reluctant to try again, but I eventually gave Laughing Lotus a try in January and yoga was just much more right for me this time.

Why?

I’m more attuned to my breath. Over the past few months, I’ve began meditating on a regular basis, and this has helped tremendously in yoga. I mostly do vinyasa yoga, which is breath-synchronized movement, so coming in with better skills at focusing on my breath made yoga much easier than it’s been in the past for me.

I stopped competing. I’m not going to lie, I’m a competitive person. I always knew that yoga was about doing your own thing, at your own pace, but that’s easier said than done when you’re in a class of lithe yogis who can hold every single pose flawlessly. Though I’m getting better at yoga, that’s still not me. But this time around, I knew I was doing yoga for the mental benefits, and I knew that looking at the person next to me or in front of me wouldn’t do anything to help my yoga, so I let this go and started doing my own thing, and, what do you know – I started getting better and enjoying it more. Weird, right?

I stopped being so hard on myself. In running, I push myself hard and set big goals for myself. While there’s a few yoga poses I want to get better at (crow, full wheel, headstand/handstand, I’m looking at you), I have stopped getting frustrated when I can’t get into these or other poses, or if I’m feeling a little wobbly one day. Respecting your mind, body and their limits is a huge part of yoga, and I have finally embraced this. Maybe one day I will get one of these poses, but until then, I’m just going to keep doing what I can and just focus on the breathing and what I can do.

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I got a mat I really like. This is a dumb and superficial reason, but hey, it helped, too. I got a gift card to Lululemon for my birthday, so I invested in a mat that I love. It’s heavy, and it smells a little rubbery, but it’s really thick and cushy and my hands never slip, and it’s a really soothing green, and it just makes me want to use it.

I found the right place. Laughing Lotus is not pretentious, not super-hippie (but not super not-hippie either…and I kind of like that) and doesn’t take itself too seriously, so I enjoy going there. It’s also convenient for me, which makes a big difference.

Do you like yoga? How did you get into it?

33 comments on “How I Started to Love Yoga

  1. Dori

    This is a great post! It goes for any workout, you really just have to find the place/type/instructor/etc you love for you to keep going back. I like yoga but don’t love it enough to go regularly, although I’ve tried. I only found that with one class and instructor, Kayleigh’s Core Fusion Yoga at Exhale. I loved yoga so much because of her instruction and music. I miss it, but it’s not convenient for me now that I moved! I’m glad you are getting so much out of your yoga classes.
    Dori recently posted..Workout Plan: Week of March 17, 2013 + My Twenties

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  2. Martha Wills

    I started yoga in 2000 at a small studio where I could really learn the poses. About a year later I moved and found another studio that was very similar and focused most on alignment and slow moving asanas. I liked my first studio, but fell in love with my second.

    Yoga is so amazing if your able to focus on self and do away with the competitiveness. This is always hard for me. Since the new year my intentions at the start of every practice have been more about being kind to myself and not pushing to hard, and I’ve noticed that I’m getting into poses I was unable to do before.

    It does take time and effort to really fall in love with a practice and a studio … so glad you started to love yours!

    p.s. regarding the mat, it’s not superficial at all. A good mat makes all the difference in the world. When your LLL wears out, try Manduka. Totally changed my world!
    Martha Wills recently posted..Let’s Not Go to Twitter Jail

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  3. Clare @ Fitting It All In

    LOVE THIS. I realized I was too competitive/hard on myself during yoga too recently. Yoga is ABOUT respecting your mind and body and breathing…not about being the best. And my practices are so much more fun now!

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  4. Laura

    I never really enjoyed yoga until the past month. I’ve been battling IT band issues for about 8 weeks and once it was finally improving, I got a stress fracture. I finally realized my body is telling (screaming! yelling!) me to slow down and fix some muscular/balance/etc. issues before proceeding with a high intensity training cycle again. Cheers to running smarter and here’s hoping yoga helps with that!

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  5. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    I’m all about yoga but I definitely think the right mat, right instructor, right place, right CLASS are HUGE factors in the enjoyment of a class. I know that I need a thicker mat because if I’m doing too much on my back, especially rolling around and it hurts my spine if the mat is too thin. But I LOVE yoga and everything it has done for my mind, body and spirit!
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Three Minutes

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  6. Shay @ Whine Less, Breathe More

    I love yoga. It’s my happy place. Really, when life is nuts for me and I just need a mental break, I look to yoga. It is a necessity in my life.

    I have also discovered in the last few days how much yoga has conditioned me for an injury. Being unable to use one ankle/leg has made me totally dependent on the other leg and arms for support. It’s been all about balance and I am actually getting along really well.
    Shay @ Whine Less, Breathe More recently posted..Surgery Details. Or at Least What I Can Remember.

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  7. Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover!

    Great post – I can definitely relate. I was a “yoga skeptic” for years, it just didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t feel like a workout, and I wasn’t letting my mind go enough for it to help me.

    I actually “found” my yoga when I was living in Sweden – I started taking classes at my local gym. Taking yoga classes in another language somehow got me to turn off my brain for a while and just settle in. When I got back to NYC I had trouble finding a yoga studio that was for me, I had just been going to yoga to the people. Then I found Strala Yoga, also totally not pretentious, and a great community of people. Now I really want to try a class or two at Laughing Lotus, I’ve heard so many great things about it!
    Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! recently posted..WIAW – The Random Side of Things

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    1. Theodora Post author

      Ooh, that is really interesting about “finding” yoga when it wasn’t in English.

      And YES! Good point about Strala – I have tried it and liked it a lot, too, but it’s not super-convenient for me to go often. DEFINITELY try Laughing Lotus!

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  8. Meghan

    I think the competitive issue is something that I face in yoga too. I think being in competitive sports makes us compare ourselves either to ourselves or to others too often. I definitely am so bad about looking around and seeing how deep people are in their pose, and I’m actually going to blame doing that on Tuesday to one of the reasons my ankle is bothering me this week/weekend. I’m so glad you found a place that you like and reasons that you’re enjoying it. I know there are so many benefits to it.
    Meghan recently posted..Weekly Workouts Roundup

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  9. Bitsy

    I started doing yoga because I found it was the perfect fit for my body. I continue to do it because of the benefits the practice brings to my everyday life (hello, breathing!) and for the reminder of how strong my body truly is.
    Bitsy recently posted..Restorative Yoga

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  10. Jess

    Similar to you, I too was recommended to try yoga by a chiropractor that thought it could him me out. I went religiously for awhile, but in the end decided it wasn’t for me.

    Even though I moved on to other workouts, yoga did teach me how to breathe correctly which helps while exercising. And I did gets some satisfaction in finally being able to do some of the poses I couldn’t even come close to getting when I started. Maybe someday I will go back.

    Reply
  11. Liz

    I am LOVING yoga this training cycle. Usually I struggle to fit it in, but lately, it’s become one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s great for keeping me stretched out and I know it does great things for all those tiny stabilizer muscles, and I also just find it really great for relaxing and getting more in tune with my body. I’m also loving Laughing Lotus and their intro $39/month special! PS, so great to meet you in real life last night, finally… yoga date soon?
    Liz recently posted..Long Branch Half Marathon Training — Week 3

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  12. Carl

    I am not sure why everyone has to feel like they need to do yoga in a studio. I got introduced to Yoga through P90X and it is much easier to do watching a video. One can stop and take breaks. One does not have to feel like an idiot if one falls over doing a certain position, etc. Plus helps when doing in the convenience of own home.
    Carl recently posted..Green Coffee Bean Extract Study

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    1. Glen Snider

      @Carl:

      Hey Carl, P90X is the very first yoga I did, too. I agree with you – I appreciated doing it in the privacy of my basement. I would have been embarrassed in a class. Now that I have a bit more experience, I realize that is a HARD yoga routine! Long, too.

      Reply
  13. Nicole

    I first got into yoga when I lived in Chicago and belonged to Crunch gym. They had an amazing instructor who really took the time to explain everything and help move everyone into the right position.
    Now I like to do yoga at home at least 1x/week. I probably should do it more often! It has become a perfect way to stretch, build strength, and build overall awareness. Namaste!
    Nicole recently posted..Chicken & Veggies Soup

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  14. Johanna B

    I want to like yoga. I read a lot of yogic material but have trouble working on my practice. I hate my mat. Maybe I’ll try to find one I truly love. Good idea.

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Yoga is very good for your health, but it must be done correctly or you can end damaging your joints. Its good advice to find qualified instructor and one you like. Once you understand the basics you can try it at home.

    Reply
  16. Naomi

    I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. I practiced Bikram almost exclusively for about a year. It’s great for loosening up tight muscles while marathon training, but just as intense as running and I burned out on it. I practiced at home for a while but just started going back to hatha yoga classes at a new studio and am loving yoga again.
    Naomi recently posted..On Living Well

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  17. Kim

    Yoga is a real pleasure for body and soul. But it requires dedication and huge physical capacities. To prepare your body for regular trainings and to improve your results the proper nutrition is vital. I am taking Military Grade Nutritionals. These dietary supplements were developed for soldiers, but they are good for everyone, who wants to keep fit. They provide sustainable results and help me improve my shape quickly.

    Reply
  18. Glen Snider

    I’m old enough to remember when yoga was called Twister.
    Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
    Just remember, in yoga, it’s one thing after another – breath, breath, breath.

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  19. Dwayne

    I just did my 1st real yoga class! I started like a few others here with P90X. I gotta say that was a little easier than watching people around me to tell which position to go into. I feel that yoga permits me to relax and gain strength at the same time. Favorite pose is probably Warrior 1. Its one the toughest too.

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