Yoga is a sneaky bitch….
Most people start the practice with the goal of shedding a few pounds and gaining more flexibility (that was me), but when you least expect it, yoga will begin to work it’s magic. Don’t worry friends – you will shed those lbs & become much more flexible too.
This new outlook can be startling at first or even ignored (that was me too). To help you understand the yoga journey and how it will change you, I’ll share how the practice started on the outside and quickly permeated through to my insides.
And by insides I’m referring to the soul body, the piece of us that creates butterflies, the piece of us that makes our heart beat quicken, the piece of us that gives us goosebumps, and the piece of us that knows our potential and worth. If those insides are ready to be opened and explored, then keep reading.
*Caution – this post will be raw, brutally honest, and LONG. Please excuse any harsh language, it’s my passion showing through words.
And with that out of the way, let’s start to change into the badass person we’re meant to be.
1. Your body image will change
When I first stumbled upon yoga, my ultimate goal was to lose weight. I was not a gym rat and definitely not a runner so I needed to find a niche workout that was enjoyable yet calorie burning.
Yoga definitely fit the bill.
After going to yoga for a few weeks, I began to notice the wide variety of shapes and sizes in the room and every shape and size was flaunting skin tight clothing. I quickly realized that yoga was not the norm.
People didn’t feel intimidated by society’s categories of who should wear what and when. People didn’t stare you down upon entering the room. People didn’t attempt to one up your practice to better theirs. People just let one another be.
Cue the huge breath of fresh air and sigh of relief – a non-judgement zone does exist.
I specifically remember one yoga class where a larger woman beside me was killing it. And by killing it I mean….her practice was insanely advanced, her flexibility was desirable, and her attitude was contagious.
From that point on, I stopped the judgmental bullshit that I’d practiced my entire life. I learned to appreciate every person’s body for SO MUCH MORE than the physical appearance. And in learning this about other people, I started to practice this on myself too.
I, like many women, love to tear myself down – too much cellulite here, too round here, too many pimples there. Yoga, that sneaky bitch, taught me to drop the negative self-talk and STOP.
I began to notice instead how strong my body is, how it moves in coordinated movements, how it expands and contracts, how it makes shapes upon command, and how it breathes life into me.
Now when I look in the mirror – regardless of the number on that damn scale – I know I’m SO MUCH MORE than the physical appearance staring back at me. And to experience that feeling is priceless.
2. You will cultivate an attitude of gratitude
I’ve had the pleasure of walking this beautiful planet for 27.5 years and for almost 24 years, I’ve been an ungrateful snob. Life growing up was fairly seamless thanks to my loving and supportive parents, but….
Of course there’s a but.
But – I grew up in a small town where money and materialism symbolized success. The car you drove, the clothes you wore, the people you mingled with, it was all so very important (but really not at all). I quickly fell into a downward spiral of Coach purses, Lacoste polos, rumor filled conversations, and desperate attention seeking.
Sadly – this downward spiral continued into my college years.
Luckily – The spiral began to severely slow down upon meeting my fiance and learning the finer things in life: fishing, boating, four wheeling…basically living in the moment and not in a warped world of materialism.
After a few years of getting dirty and meeting new friends, I found yoga.
Again, yoga and her sneaky ways slowly started to seep in through my pores, flow through my bloodstream, and change the very core of my being. It didn’t happen all at once but with consistent practice and mindfulness, I’ve completely changed the person I was.
Now, in this moment, I can truly appreciate who I am and the life I’m living. I learned to stop wanting more and this is where all of that magical life goodness happens.
The moment you can appreciate what you already have and stop yearning for something more, is the moment that gratitude will take over. Life will become easier, the trees prettier, strangers friendlier, food tastier, and so much more.
A total gratitude makeover won’t happen overnight but like anything in life, with consistent practice and dedication, it can be achieved.
To start the gratitude fire, try my must-dos:
- Keep a gratitude journal and write in it every day or as much as possible. Write down whatever comes to mind first, there’s no rules. Some days I write entries like this – grateful for my long hair, the delicious breakfast I ate, and my comfortable bed. Other days they go something like this – grateful for my fiance, my steady income, and my strong body.
- Read this book – The Gratitude Diaries. It is life changing.
- Practice gratitude before and after your yoga class by recognizing what is fueling you in that moment – the teacher, your neighbors, the music, etc.
- When in an undesirable situation, always remember that an attitude of gratitude can shift your perspective, it simply requires effort.
One last note while we’re here. Did anyone else wear ridiculously overpriced Lacoste polos in high school or was I the only sucker? For your sake, I hope the answer is no, LOL.
3. Gossip won’t be cool anymore
This topic should almost be number one, it’s that life changing.
Women are sadly trained from a very young age to talk about one another. We are naturally competitive and also love to openly express ourselves through conversation. Basically, we love to talk and 99% of the time that talk is derived from gossip.
As you can guess, I was a gossip whore.
I thrived off conversations that focused on other people – what they wore, who they were dating, their physical appearance, their downfalls, etc. In a way, it was addicting and satisfying (or so my ego thought).
The pivotal moment that changed my gossiping ways occurred during yoga teacher training. We touched on different methods of how to stop the gossip train by either refocusing the conversation, disengaging from the conversation, or possibly distancing yourself from a specific person as a whole.
After this in-depth discussion of gossip and it’s paralyzing effects on relationships and society as a whole, I made a vow to stop the bullshit.
I started to tune into my conversations and recognize where the gossip train was starting and with whom specifically. I did my best to refocus the conversation, not engage in the negativity, or at worst – distance myself from that specific person.
When you start to practice these 3 methods of gossip awareness, sadly you’ll notice that some conversations and friendships only exist when gossip is present. If this is the case for you (which it was for me), it’s not necessary to breakup with your friend but it is necessary to practice awareness in order to stop a negative exchange aka gossip.
One thing to note – I’m not the gossip police and I’m not 100% free of gossip either. Yes, I still indulge and let my ego run wild for a moment or two but then I reel it back in. No one is perfect and no one expects us to be.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
4. You will gain independence + self-confidence
The yoga community is the ultimate crew to be a part of.
No matter where in the world you are, no matter what studio you walk into, or what type of yoga you practice – there will always be a yoga community to welcome you.
And because of this strong community, people are able to drop their fears.
Yes, your first yoga class will be a bit scary and uncomfortable, but over time the class will become familiar as will the people sitting next to you. This familiarity (yoga studios + yoga people) will lay the foundation for independence and self-confidence whether you’re in the yoga studio or off the mat.
I’ve always been an outgoing and confident person, never one to miss an opportune moment. But even with this personality style, I’ve always relied on other people to accompany me when stepping into the unknown.
Through yoga, through learning my body, through sitting next to strangers, through sharing vulnerable moments, and through showing up consistently – I’ve gained the confidence to explore on my own.
I can now walk into a yoga studio, walk into a workshop, or attend a festival and always know that a friendly yogi will be around the corner. I no longer doubt myself, I no longer look for others to validate my actions, and I no longer fear being alone.
Yoga will do this for you too.
Trust me, it’s that powerful.
5. You will face your fears + break through them
Again, yoga and her sneaky like ways will star to creep into your life purpose. Or what we call in yoga, your dharma.
You’ll start to recognize that certain things (like sitting in a f*cking cubicle) just don’t do it for ya. You’ll start to crave more direction, more passion, and more self- worth.
That’s how this blog started.
I returned from my Europe travels and realized that people needed helpful travel information. And to add some extra oomph, I also wanted to spread my passion for yoga. But it took me months and maybe even a year to actually start this online community. I was scared shitless. I feared failure. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging.
Excuse after excuse kept me from beginning this journey until another pivotal moment in my yoga teacher training occurred…
Our group was asked to draw a picture of one thing we feared and show it to our peers. I drew a picture of this blog (when it was a wee baby). I expressed my fears but also how much passion I had for this idea.
The group was then asked to draw an encouraging picture to help each of us overcome our fears. Each person had to present their picture and what it represented. To this day, I still have the pictures that were drawn for me.
With all of that said, yoga will help you not only realize your passions but how to move past any obstacles, fears, or challenges. The practice, the studies, and the yoga community will literally uplift you to a point where anything can be achieved.
Yoga is a game changer and this blog is a true testament to this.
The next time you have a passionate idea, don’t brush it off. Write it down, tell a friend, post it on social media and then expand upon it. Don’t ever be afraid of your dreams, it’s simply your dharma manifesting into a greater purpose.
To my dear friend yoga – thank you for changing me. Thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for creating a wider path yet more focused. And most of all – thank you for always being there.
To my dear friends – start practicing yoga, dive in head first, pay attention, allow yourself to transform, and savor each bit of the journey.
Loving you all extra hard & thanks for reading this incredibly long post.
Let’s Chat – How has yoga changed you? Where in your life do you see improvements or setbacks? Leave all of your questions, comments, and general yoga love down below.
Until next time – xoxo.