We were a year in to the pandemic when Catt asked me to go with her to hot yoga.
“Just come! You’ll love it. The room is so hot, it feels great,” she said. All I knew is that I hated yoga. But I was also exceptionally restless from a year of quarantine and looking to do something, anything, to get out of the house in a safe way.
So, I went.
It was February 11, 2021 and Catt took Lina and I to Urban 728 Yoga where we took a private with an instructor named Joe. Little did I know it at the time but this studio would quickly become my home away from home for the next year, where I would spend at least three to six days a week visiting.
After my first class, I didn’t get the buzz quite yet. But, I agreed to attend once a week with the girls because it was a nice, healthy, fun thing for us to all do together. I honestly figured I could bail after a week or two.
Me, Catt and Lina at one of our first classes.
After a few months, we slowly moved from the main room in to a much smaller room where Joe holds private sessions. And the more I went, the more I craved going. I wish I could remember the exact moment that it all started to “click” for me. Before each practice, Joe would ask “How are you?” And whomever was in the class, whether it was just me in a solo or all four of us in a private group, the conversations would often times lead into 20-30 minute discussions about life, love, loss, struggle and triumph.
I slowly learned how to bring my personal life stories in to my practice which, in return, has allowed me to bring my practice with me everywhere I go.
Maybe I wasn’t full ready to love, or even like, yoga before 2021. Maybe I didn’t have the right guidance to teach me how yoga isn’t really about the poses or flexibility at all. But I honestly used to hate yoga. The breathing, sometimes moaning, would drive me absolutely mad. I’d roll my eyes at the cult-like obsession people seemed to have with going to yoga. I just didn’t get it. I also didn’t understand how people thought this was truly a form of exercise. I preferred running, pilates, kick-boxing or dance cardio or anything else over yoga. I always thought it was just a bunch of stretching and moaning because I never really had anyone teach me that it is so much more than that!
I was always drawn to the idea of meditation but I couldn’t sit still. The reason why I think hot yoga works for someone like me, with my ADHD mind, is that it combines so many various elements all at once that I am literally forced to only think about one thing: breathing.
If we do not control our breath, the breath controls us. Before this year, I didn’t realize how much emphasis you need to put on your breath to really understand how yoga works.
The room is hot, really hot. The music is loud but not so loud that it overtakes Joe’s voice which shares inspiration, wisdom, and empowerment. All of the teachers at Urban 728 Yoga are excellent and have their own style of teaching. I’ve slowly started to venture in to other instructors and even taking the online classes which I strongly recommend. There are a lot of things that can serve as a distraction from breathing, but if you allow that to happen then you simply won’t make it through the entire 60, sometimes 90, minutes of class.
Sure my mind has wandered towards “What’s for dinner?” But if I let it hang out there too long, about 3 poses later I’ll be struggling to keep myself from falling flat on my face or giving up. The challenge is making it to the end of the class.
There have been days that I want to think about anything but breathing in yoga. My mind loves to work in triple over time to mask and bury down, deep down, any past pain or triggers. I’ve spent 38 years learning how to avoid feeling complicated, painful feelings and when I’m in yoga all of those things are slowly starting to unwind, untwist, and unfold.
The deeper I go in to a pose, the more I breathe, the more of my past feels like it is releasing.
Have I pushed myself too hard at times? Absolutely. I’ve walked away from sessions thinking “I’ll never do that again!” but I usually have a smirk on my face when I’m thinking that, because I know better.
For me, I think the biggest take away from my past year is learning to trust my body again. After giving birth to June back in 2019, I suffered a great deal of trauma to my body that I had deeply stored. There were a few sessions that ended with tears streaming down my face. That’s when I started to really see and believe how much my mind and body are connected. I had been storing my emotional pain in my body.
If I’m being honest, back then I really believed that my body was broken. I had been repeating a script to myself for two years that “my body cannot do what it was made to do.” When faced with the reality that I have secondary infertility, I went down the pity party rabbit hole asking, “What is wrong with me?” If I was in a yoga class and saw someone doing a pose or stretch I couldn’t do, I would chalk it up to yet another thing that my body wasn’t letting me do. But instead of beating myself up over why all of this was happening to me, the narrative slowly started to shift to why all of this was happening for me.
Yoga has offered a holistic healing for all of the layers of my being. My body knew what it needed to do to heal itself, yet my mind kept getting in the way with distractions from the pain. And when I say “healing” I do not necessarily mean that I am cured or “fixed” or that I have gotten “better” in any way.
For me, healing means letting go of the things that are not who I am, and letting go of the expectations to be something that I am not.
I realize now that I’ve only began to scratch the surface of what it means to heal trauma that is buried within the core of our bodies. But I can already see a true difference in my mind, body, and soul after spending nearly a year dedicating myself to practicing yoga. I have slowly began trusting myself and my body, day after day. It’s a slow and gradual process that I don’t think really has an ending and for that I am so incredibly grateful.
This post simply would not be complete without dedicating it to my incredible teacher, Joe Komar and Catt for introducing me to this magical practice.
So, do you hate yoga? I did too. I encourage you to maybe give it another try some day.