A question that sparked a lot of self reflection.
“What inspired me to practice yoga?”
While the short answer is, movement is my inspiration for practicing yoga, the long answer is more in-depth.
I’m not sure if I was ever inspired to start practicing yoga. If anything, I was inspired as a child watching my parents practice their salsa dancing in our tiny kitchen. From then, the rest is history. I tried to stay active learning different dance styles in after school programs. The movement of dance spoke to my body like an old friend providing comfort in ways I never knew I needed. As time caught up to me, I knew the after school programs were only temporary and I was ready to find my next hobby.
Yoga was introduced to me in high school gym class and I loved it right away. At that time it wasn’t as trendy or even “cool” to do yoga. But for me, it was a wonderful escape back into my body, and I loved it for what it was. Which was a meditative practice that brought me comfort, freedom, and awareness; i.e. – an old friend, I never knew I needed in my life.
My first yoga studio experience…
With all of the excitement I had about going to a yoga studio for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. And my first time was HORRIBLE, for many reasons. Some my fault and some not. It was outside of my hometown of Orlando, while I was visiting a friend. Spontaneously we were driving around and we saw a yoga studio that she was familiar with. Even though it was both of our first time there, my friend seemed much more comfortable moving through the space than I did. There were weird rules and no one to give clear direction. So I just winged it, as I do in most cases. Mind you, this was spontaneous, so my outfit was stretchy enough, but not breathable enough for a flow class. Also, my nose was annoyingly sniffly and runny. Which seemed to bother the teacher enough to bring it up in the middle of class. Can you say, HUMILIATING!… OH! I also broke my glasses in that class, which was a bummer for real. Squished while doing triangle pose, RIP glasses.
So yeah, not the glorious fantasy first time yoga experience someone would expect. Honestly, from then on I avoided studios and strictly rented yoga books and videos from the library. [Side note – YouTube was not that popular yet and social media was not as poppin as it is today.] The books and videos served me well for a while, except I kept running into the same age old question, most students ask when first starting out… “Am I doing this right?” I researched a lot about alignment, but had no clue about modifications or adjustment to poses. I also had no idea that yoga was more than just trying to put my body into some hard, but fun postures, called asana. That is until I met my first yoga teacher at a studio that was not a yoga studio at all, but helped me feel seen and safe enough to explore the deeper teachings of yoga.
A welcoming environment…
Let’s just say my first yoga teacher looked nothing like me, but looked a lot like the books and videos I rented from the library. She was about my age and had the body-type of a rock-climbing ballerina. A little nerdy in her own way, which added the level of comfort I needed to continue to take classes and approach her with questions like, “Am I doing this right?” [Side note – there is no “real” right or wrong way to do yoga, it all just depends.]
Oddly enough my intention was to never take a yoga class at this studio. My intention was to use my Pole Dancing Groupon pass that my friend wanted to get, but then ghosted me. So before the expiration date, I used up all the classes on my Groupon and signed up for a membership, which is where I met Temika Kindred, now owner of Foxy Fitness and Pole Studio, in Orlando, FL.
Currently, Foxy Fitness & Pole Studio offers a variety of fitness classes created for women, by women. I think my favorite experience at Foxy Fitness is the welcoming and encouraging atmosphere that starts from the owner, Temika, and leaves with the students. Honestly, Foxy Fitness is more than ‘just’ any other fitness studio down the block, it’s a melting-pot and most importantly it is a community network. If you are lucky enough to experience their magic, you will be inspired.
Find yourself an environment that welcomes you.
Overall, I found my spark back while taking classes at Foxy Fitness and with time I got back into different yoga studios. I also found some great yoga and non-yoga teachers that I still follow and learn from, till this day. One of them being, the rock-climbing ballerina teacher.
Personally, my experiences getting back into yoga spaces were still not all good, but not all bad either. There were still moments of shame, rejection, and discomfort with teachers and studio owners that didn’t exactly “practice” yoga, even though they were “doing” yoga (if that makes sense). On the other hand, I still found wellness, healing, connection, and peace for my body, heart and mind.
In the end, I got the best advice I could get during that time from my first yoga teacher. “Take as many different styles of yoga classes, with as many different teachers as you can.”
So, I did. I kept searching and going back to yoga studios, learning different yoga styles and eventually doing a multitude of trainings from a variety of teachers. In doing this, I learned more about myself than I thought I ever would. Most importantly, I came back to myself, realizing that movement has always been my inspiration for practicing yoga. Nothing else mattered except, moving my body like an old friend providing comfort in ways I never knew I needed.
To anyone interested in exploring or expanding their yoga journey I would recommend to find a teacher (or multiple teachers) that resonate with your journey.
To the reader…
If you have come this far, thank you!
I did say the long answer was more in-depth, so I hope you enjoyed my self-reflection on this question. I’ll be back with more self-reflection thoughts, ideas, and stories. In the meantime if you want more, go to my blog and read my story, “Living with an invisible illness“.
~Living A More Zen Life~
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