My first yoga experience was not convincing.
It wasn’t until years later that I tried another yoga class. I went to cool down and stretch (yoga was pretty much just stretching right?) as I had just finished an hour-long weightlifting class. I loved weight-lifting. It was such an efficient way to gain strength, burn calories, and get that toned “beach-body” look.
The yoga class started just as I remembered it–very slowly. Everyone sat on their mat and breathing exercises as the instructor talked us through it. I was already tired from my weight-lifting, so it felt good to sit and relax. We did alternate nostril breathing, which I thought was strange, but continued to follow the instructor as she directed.
After a while of breathing, the instructor said something along the lines of, “I want you to focus on gratitude during this class, gratitude for your body and all that it does to serve you.”
She continued asking us to reflect on our bodies and the intricacies and beauty of its internal networks and structures which give us life.
For the first time in the gym, I truly paid attention on the internal workings, sensations, and wonders of my body, rather than just developing my outward physical appearance.
Throughout the yoga class, the instructor helped us into poses and explained the health benefits of each one. She stressed the importance of understanding our bodies and not to push ourselves in ways that are not serving us well. There was no ability- or body-type judgement, and not a single word uttered about “burning calories”, “getting ready for summer”, “pushing to the limit”. We were aiming for internal health and forgetting about shallower views of ourselves.
For the first time (even if it was just for those few moments in class), I felt a positive acceptance, celebration, and gratitude for my body…and because of this, my views towards yoga began to change..
And my question to everyone is: Why do you exercise or go to the gym? In what ways do you think yoga is different from other gym classes?