Let me start by saying this: Yoga and relaxation do not come naturally to me. In fact, I have to work incredibly hard at relaxation (to the point where I have the word ‘relax’ tattooed on the inside of my finger). I am a gym girl—always have been. I love high intensity, all sweat inducing, fast paced workouts. I’ve been a proud member of my gym for 10 years and never thought I’d cancel my membership. I worried about leaving my comfort zone, my sanctuary.
Like many, I struggle with stress and feelings of anxiety. I’ve thought for years that a yoga class would benefit me profusely but I continued to put it off, and ended up just saying, “Na, I’ma stay in bed”. It wasn’t until I returned from three weeks in Bali (I know, so cliché), that I felt a sense of enlightenment after trying a yoga class at The Oberio, in Seminyak. It’s there that I realized how much I was missing out on. The teacher was a 60-year old man who looked half his age. His energy was clear, happy, and felt like magic. He was a medicine man, a healer and a true yogi, the Ketut to my Julia Roberts.
After a private class, I completed a healing session with the teacher where he looked into my aura and told me things that were frighteningly true about myself—how my energy was negative and that I worry about everything. He rid me of these negative thoughts with his yoga practice, and I felt instantly cleansed and knew it was time. (Note that this was my true of my own personal experience, and most experts recommend multiple yoga sessions to help ease negative thoughts and lift mood).
I decided on a two-week trial at Flow Lab yoga studio in Sydney and put my gym membership on hold. I fit the classes in between work and play to really give yoga a try, because if Jennifer Aniston, Miranda Kerr, and Gwyneth Paltrow are into it, it’s worth a go.
Keep scrolling to discover the benefits of my journey to yoga.
Getting there is the hardest part—I thought about putting off the first class that many times, but I just knew it had to be done. I got to class late, didn’t have a mat and was already sweating from running to get there on time. Feeling frazzled and anything but calm, I rolled out a mat and took a place at the back so I could copy the people in front. I’m lucky that after so many years at the gym, and stretching after every session, that I am quite flexible so I didn’t find my first class as hard as others maybe would. (Although the right yoga teacher should make your first class feel easy regardless of your experience level, easing you in). I did however, struggle with my thoughts (but more on that later). I began getting into the movements pretty quickly and was shocked to find I was actually enjoying myself.
Sans the sweat droplets dripping from my nose on to the mat and making me slip, my first Vinyasa class was a success. So much so that I moved from beginners class to the Flow class the very next day. The only way I can describe the feeling of Vinyasa is, addictive. Movement after movement, I am left wanting more every time.
Now let's get back to my wandering thoughts. Initially I thought, there is absolutely no way I would be able to stop thinking about what Olivia Palermo just posted on Instagram or which street style image I’d be adding to my Pinterest board that night. I remembered something I once read that said “It is inevitable for your thoughts to wander but if you just concentrate on your breath and count them in your head, like you’re counting sheep, your mind will begin to only concentrate on breathing”. I put this into practice, and it helped.
Two weeks is not a long time, but I have honestly reaped the benefits of yoga already.
Where I once used Voltaren gel to eliminate blemishes, I now don’t put anything on my skin apart from moisturizer, and it is totally clear. (Again, this is just my own personal experience, and yoga hasn't been proven to directly clear skin). I’ve also found that I am sleeping soundly, and become tired at the same time every night. I am less stressed in stressful situations and have consciously slowed my walk down from a mad woman rushing, to a slow and steady pace. And after every class I am as sore as if I have just completed a high intensity workout with a Kardashian trainer.
If there is one pose I can recommend to start off with, it is downward dog—the relaxation pose. It allows the mind, body and soul to re-set as the body relaxes into the hands, and your neck is free from any tension.
I don’t consider my yoga journey over and I hope it never is. I plan to practice for as long as I can, as the benefits are far too great to stop, and hey looking like Miranda Kerr won’t hurt either.