Julia

Why Do You Yoga? How Did You Start Doing Yoga?

18 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

 

 

I joined this forum a few days ago and found many helpful and inspiring posts! Thank you so much for that, Candace and YBC community :)

 

I am in the process of reflecting how yoga changed my life and am very interested in hearing other people's experience with yoga.

 

I started doing yoga two years ago to (re)connect with my body after many years of dieting and over-exercising. I started by watching yoga videos on youtube but it took some time until it "clicked" and yoga became indispensable to my life :)

Since that time, yoga has not only helped me to change my body image but it also made me more compassionate and emotionally and mentally strong. Something I would have never believed possible. 

 

Why did you start doing yoga and how? How have you changed since practicing yoga for the first time?

 

 

Julia

 

 

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I started doing yoga because it seemed like a good way to get in better shape that didn't require too much stuff, a lot of space, or a high ceiling. This only worked for a little while. Because I wanted to lose weight so badly, I would force myself to do strenuous practices on days when my depression was bad and I wasn't really up to it. When I'm not really up to it, I get frustrated and angry at myself when I can't keep up or when a pose doesn't feel right or when my wrists still hurt even after reading every tip ever written about avoiding wrist pain. Basically I ended up hating myself and yoga, stopped exercising altogether, and put on another ten pounds. When I fail, I fail spectacularly.

 

So I don't look to yoga to help me lose weight anymore. I know it can help others do that, and I'm genuinely glad for that, but if I put that expectation on my yoga practice I'm going to ruin it with my crazy and end up with no yoga and no weight loss. Eventually I'd like to be able to physically challenge myself again, but right now all I'm looking to yoga for is to help me be a little happier and a little saner. Which it does, on the too-infrequent occasions I'm motivated enough to actually do it.

 

That's so rad you were able to get to a better place, Julia. It's really helpful to hear it's possible.

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I originally started yoga many years ago mainly to take my dad who wanted to keep up his flexibility and really enjoyed it. But I only ever did one class per week.. Which really wasn't very effective.

Then I moved and found a really challenging class and our teacher suggested looking up Tara Stiles on YouTube to help with practice at home. I've been doing home practice daily for nearly 12 months and can see a real difference in my strength and flexibility. In the last 6 months I have been trying to explore other aspects of yoga and trying a bit more mediation.

I like how yoga is so diverse; you can have strong yoga, restorative, mediative according to your personal circumstances.

I like the easy flow of Tara Stiles yoga but wanted to find other yoga styles and challenges. I came across Kino MacGregor and Ashtanga yoga which I enjoyed and eventually found Candace - yeah.. I don't do so much Ashtanga yoga now but still practice daily even if only 10 min restorative / meditative...

I would really like to see some vast improvement in my yoga practice and I think this is the year to build my core as this I believe is the sticking point for me for deeper development.

Turi, Mana, Julia and 3 others like this

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I stumbled on a youtube video called "Standing spine twist" and thought I would try it. I have been dealing with back issues for over 20 years and just thought why not? I did it everyday for two weeks straight and couldn't believe the release it generated. Since it was also attached to yoga videos I started digging around in the beginner section until I found some I was comfortable with. I have been doing it almost daily since then (April 2014). The improvements are incredible. I haven't had not even a spasm since then. Yesterday I ran a chainsaw and split wood all day. That would usually leave me wrecked the next day. But today I got up and did 2 of Candace's videos and practiced headstands. Also for the first time my nose touched my knee in forward fold. 9 months ago I couldn't hardly tie my shoes. I can't imagine I would ever stop but rather keep creating more and more distance from my previous physical self. Thank you to all who encourage and especially those who work hard to post videos on how to do this. It has changed my life.

Hildegard, Mana, nfenchak and 5 others like this

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There was a Groupon offer :)

Seriously though, I decided to start looking after myself in March last year. I cut out rice and pasta and most carbs from my diet but then realized I needed to get active. I haven't exercised in years and would not be caught dead in the gym so I thought "Yoga!".

Yes, the Groupon voucher for 10 classes was the deal maker. I went to the classes religiously, walking three blocks from the train station to the studio as my warm up, three times a week. Once the sessions were over, I realized I liked yoga and I wanted to do more, and maybe augment it by actually exercising. Yes, I caved and got a gym membership.

The yoga classes at the gym did not suit my 9-to-5 lifestyle so I chose to attend the Body Balance classes. It's a mix of tai chi, Pilates and yoga and I enjoyed it immensely. Still, I don't practice at home, mainly because I do not have the space.

I have since learned that even the most brief of yoga practice every day helps both my body and my mind. I like that I focus on the breath and the pose more than on that last email at work that I forgot to reply to! At home, I sometimes find myself doing a plank, a downward dog, maybe a bit of cat and cow to ease the pain in my back but I know I need to be more consistent and more focused about my practice so I have agreed with myself to start the Strength Challenge from this weekend. I am late to the party but will be catching up with everyone.

Mana, Julia, Turi and 3 others like this

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I started quite a few years ago, but only very gentle, basic yoga. It was when my son was little, and I was working a stressful job. I'd come home after wrangling kids, shopping, housework, on top of my stressful 9-5 and I found by the end of the day my poor back and not to mention head were so sore and tired. I started with some very gentle yoga in my bedroom with a candle to de-stress at the end of each day.

 

Then one day a colleague of mine who was in charge of trying to motivate people to be healthy (she'd bring in fruit in order to try to get some of the men working there to lay off the donuts and into some organic fruit) suggested I come with her to this "Bikram thing" with her one evening. I sort of hated it at first, but ended up going back, and back again. I liked going with her for the company, and then kind of fell in love with yoga as it was really the only way I'd felt graceful or flexible or in some way talented since my old gymnastics days, which I'd given up way too prematurely when I was young. I liked challenging myself as I'm not competitive so haven't enjoyed competitive sports, and loved seeing my progress from week to week. 

 

It was only really since I discovered Candace's videos a few months ago that I've progressed from being just flexible to being flexible as well as becoming physically strong, which I have always lacked. I'm still working very hard on meditation and mindfulness, and not letting the mind wander during yoga, but for now I'm really enjoying progressing even further in my poses. I've also started doing classes with my husband fairly locally at a new studio overlooking a lake which focuses on not just poses but also mixed with breathing exercises and meditation. I'm really enjoying the relaxation aspects, as well as bonding with that guy that I married  :P

Mana, nfenchak, mimisouth and 5 others like this

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I started at the end of November 2014. I was always interested in yoga, seeing all the slender, bendy, flexible people contorting themselves into a human pretzel actually appealed to me somehow. What really gets to me is the beauty of the body in this movement and the balance and strength that it takes in inversions. As an artist I felt the need to not only witness it but to be a PART of it.

 

I also had thought about it as a method of weightloss. I've tried gym and I lose my motivation. I would love to do more with my diet....but chose not to due to my husband(he's super picky). And doing crazy workout exercises just don't appeal to me. The thought of getting super sweaty and feeling like your heart is going to explode and you are just punishing yourself....yeah, not for me.

 

But, yoga...Yoga... YOGA!

 

I just love it! I get done with a session (for example the 31 Strength Challenge) and I still want to do more! Yet, after 3 minutes of crunches, jumping jacks, etc and I want to just roll over and die. 

 

I have (in only a month) definitely noticed a difference in the way I carry myself. I am more mindful of what is around me, what I do, what I eat. Not only is it strengthening me physically but it is doing a fantastic job mentally! I have been doing a daily practice anywhere from 15-40 minutes at home practicing with videos. Living out in the boondocks of Northeast PA means not many classes around to choose from. There is a hot yoga class but the times just never work out for me. I turned to pinterest at first and then discovered Yoga by Adrienne (she babbled too much for my taste) and then stumbled upon YBC (JACKPOT!). I have tried Tara Stiles but find that her music in the videos distracts me. I like the option of just listening to the voice and having the choice of music if I choose.

 

Anyway... long story short, I started for exercise and I do it because I love it!

Julia, keziah, Hildegard and 4 others like this

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I started almost by accident. I was in my early twenties and had barely done any exercise (running to catch public transportation isn't an Olympic sport *yet*) since graduating high school. Unsurprisingly enough I'd gained a bit of weight, which I wasn't happy with. I tried using our stationary bike, but it got boring very quickly. I had a very busy schedule with university, which led me to dropping out of doing tae kwon do and a going to the gym was out of the question as I'm no good around loud noises and, thanks to years of phys ed classes, I loathe running.

Late one night I ran into a Rodney Yee yoga class on TV and I decided to give it a go, based on the faint memory that while I'd done very poorly on my phys ed classes (know anyone who's ever failed a phys ed test? Now you do) I'd been fairly flexible. I wasn't. Or at least I wasn't while trying to do yoga in my jeans. I decided to try again, this time in my pyjamas, and I did a little less poorly. In fact, I actually liked it. I bought myself a book and started learning at home. I was eventually able to take proper lessons, which I truly enjoyed and from which I learnt a lot while I was able to attend. I eventually built a fairly consistent home practice, to the point where I do yoga every day - sometimes just a shorter sequence, sometimes a full hour or a little more, sometimes a more challenging ashtanga flow, sometimes something calmer. It changes up with my mood and what I need in the day. I also do a few minutes of yoga before going to bed, which has helped me with my insomnia.

I'm always looking to improve my practice. One of my favourite things about yoga is how you're always learning and how even the seemingly more simpler poses have something to teach you, even if you've been doing them for years. The more I practice the more I can pay attention to the little details, improve on my alignment, etc.

One of the best thing about yoga for me is how it changed my relationship with my body. After years of being miserable while exercising (and thus avoiding it like the plague) I found a way to enjoy and be truly grateful for what my body is capable of doing. Doing yoga isn't a chore or something I have to remind myself to do, but something I actively look forward to every day. It has also helped me immensely when it comes to dealing with my chronic depression and anxiety. It's been a wonderful constant, a time in my day when my brain will quiet down and I will feel truly at peace with myself no matter what's going on with my life. It has also taught me how to be compassionate towards others and myself, which is no small feat.

Let's just say I'm very, very grateful for running into that yoga show, all those years ago.

Mana, MrBalloonHands, Julia and 3 others like this

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The thought of getting super sweaty and feeling like your heart is going to explode and you are just punishing yourself....yeah, not for me.

 

Amen to that!  My husband keeps urging me to take up running, or jogging, anything really that is slightly faster than a brisk walk, but I just can't bring myself to enjoy it.  My knees and ankles pounding together as I hit the ground makes me feel like I will damage the turf or that it will damage me!

 

Saying that, I once got my husband to follow one of Candace's videos and he was cursing under his breath as he tried to stay in the extended side angle pose!  He's not as tough as he thinks he is, despite playing basketball and jogging twice a week.  I know it's not a competition but when he saw that I could stay in those poses longer than he could, I think he saw me in a different light.

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One sad day I found I couldn't touch my toes, not only my toes but my shins.  Stiffness had snuck up as stealthily as the years.  I was in my mid-fifties and didn't want to be consigned to the stout matronly-figured trash heap just yet.  Remembered a class I'd taken in my 30's.  The instructor was 80 years old and could wrap her feet behind her head.  Not only that but she hadn't taken up yoga until she was 50.  Unfortunately I wasn't ready for yoga then so I didn't pursue it but standing there with my hands reaching ineffectually for those toes I remembered.  If she could do it why not I?

 

Well, so I'm not wrapping my feet behind my ears but I do do a mean headstand.  Happily yoga isn't just about the asanas.  As so many others have said, it starts to permeate the rest of ones life.  The attempts at meditation have been most instructive.  The inner chatter, the continuous inner chatte,r is so exhausting.  I hadn't realised how little breathing space I give myself.  Although I am not *good* at meditating, regular practice has made me far more mindful and observant of the workings of my mind.  I am better at stopping the loop of endless memory reruns as well as anticipating what might happen while missing what actually IS happening right NOW. 

 

Oh, and I have a firmer butt.  :)

Hildegard, Mana, Julia and 2 others like this

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I literally stumbled onto the yoga scene a couple of years ago. Bottom line is that right now yoga and Tai Chi are the only 'exercises' my doc will allow me to do.

 

Sounds crazy but a wicked injury and auto immune issues have pretty much destroyed the last 5 years of my life. I'm physically allregic to exercise, lol.

 

I do yoga because it allows me to be active without doing damage.

 

And it gives me something that's mine.

mmosier71, Meugenio, Mana and 1 other like this

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My first experience with yoga, I was a freshman in college, I was in a high stress major and had mainly sleepless nights.  Not only did I gain 20 lbs my first year in school but because I was under so much stress my stomach could no longer process any diary.  I became lactose intolerant to the point that I had to read the ingredients on everything I ate and if it said "contains milk" I could not have it.  I went to the doctor to get everything checked out and she said if I imagined my stress better I could ween myself back onto diary products.  So I made a few adjustments in my lifestyle and incorporated yoga and within a year I could have a glass of milk (it was awesome!).

 

I fell out of my routine for a few years and just recently stepped back into my yoga practice because I wanted to work on my flexibility and meditation.  I was never really flexible as a kid, even when I was in gymnastics, and to find out that my husband can touch his toes and I couldn't...I decided to change that :)

mimisouth, Mana, Julia and 2 others like this

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I love this thread and have been waiting to get a chance to respond!

 

I learned about yoga bit by bit in college. I remember specifically following a yoga dvd I borrowed from the library one day between classes sophomore year, but it wasn't until my second trip to India in January 2012 that I really started to practice and fall in love with yoga. One of the student participants and one of the adult leaders on my trip were both yogis and they gave us a little taste of yoga and meditation during our evening group reflection sessions. When I got back to school, I found a Groupon for a local studio that I could easily walk to (in the dead of winter too haha!) since I didn't have a car and didn't want to have to take public transit. I LOVED this studio so much. It's located in a repurposed two-story house in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Buffalo and the people there were so friendly and encouraging. I loved the big windows that let in the natural sunlight. I started practicing Bikram yoga and later fell in love with their flow classes. Practicing yoga helped me feel strong and grateful for all the things my body could do since I'd struggled a lot with body image (still do sometimes, but I get a bit better about it day by day).

 

When my Groupon was over, I tried to practice in the mornings before class at home using videos on YouTube. I eventually fell out of the practice for a bit because of moving and various transitions that year. When I moved to Dallas later that year, I couldn't go to any studios to practice yoga because I didn't have a car (everything is bigger in Texas; you have to drive everywhere!) and public transit stinks there. Being a first year teacher was crazy enough, so I'd only go when one of my roommates could drop me off and pick me up.

 

I was better my second year of teaching when I got a car and was able to commit to buying a membership to the studio I really liked. I even tried to practice at home some more. I even practiced with one of my guy roommates once (but it was the P90X yoga that he was doing and I didn't appreciate Tony Horton yelling at me the whole time haha!). I kept coming back to this feeling of self-love, calm and gratitude every time I practiced yoga, but more transitions threw me for a loop and the practice halted again.

 

Late last July, as my life plans weren't working out as expected, I came back to yoga as a means to be more active and do something with my body. (It was also too hot to run outside haha!) I found Candace's YouTube channel and a couple others that I really liked and I started practicing yoga at home because I was super broke. I started one day, did it again the next day, and the next, and the next. And I'm so so proud to say that I've been consistently practicing at home for the past how many months woohoo! Yoga has become something that I do for me and I always look forward to practicing. On days when I'm just being lazy, I remind myself how good I feel after practicing to motivate myself and I've never regretted a practice! Now I'm able to do things I never thought I'd be able to do (hello supported headstand!) and I'm so grateful for all the growth I've seen in my yoga practice and daily life. =)

starslight, KimK, Mana and 4 others like this

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I started practicing yoga because of my desire to become Ms. Flexible! I'd always wanted to be a ballerina, so I started off doing various ballet stretches and exercises. It progressed into finding similarities between ballet stretches and yoga, and spirituality has always been an interesting realm for me. 

 

I found myself practicing yoga on a fleece blanket before I'd purchased a $7 yoga mat. I still have that mat from two+ years ago (woo, Gaiam!). I can't see myself ever getting rid of it. Honestly my yoga mat is like what a dog would be for a family- as if it somehow listens to me without saying anything, and in just being present, it helps me understand what I already know. I've bawled on my mat, been scared and angry on my mat, and I've been inherently peaceful on my mat.

 

I've gone through these last 2 pivotal years of my life with this mat, and I couldn't imagine not having it, and not having gotten onto it to kick start my daily practice.

 

Yoga has made me physically mentally and spiritually strong. Thinking about where I was and who I was before yoga...it's unfathomable. I hardly relate to that person, really... Yoga has made me more in tune with how I affect others and has changed the way I carry myself. It inspires me to be more than what I think I'm limited to. Yoga has taught me to explore myself and life with vigor, no matter how intrinsic or difficult (or sweaty!) things may get. I could go on forever... 

 

Great forum post. Simple yet thought provoking questions! 

Mana, mimisouth, Hildegard and 1 other like this

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I started doing yoga as a way to get in shape and to mix up my regular workout. I used to do a ton of cardio and weights, but after I graduated from college and no longer needed to for my cheerleading team I wanted to transition into something a little less impact heavy. Originally, I was using videos on youtube on and off at the urging of a former partner. 

 

Then, this past fall, I had a major anxiety attack. I'm a trauma survivor from some really heavy stuff that happened when I was a kid, and I was triggered by someone very close to me. To be fair, it was a really high stress time in my life--I work in politics and it was election season, I was studying for the LSAT, and my partner had just moved to another coast a few months prior and we'd gotten into a huge blowout--the combination of all of the things was just too much.

 

It absolutely wreaked me. I was a mess for weeks--in and out of depression, coasting through work, emotionally unavailable, and I was isolating myself from my social network.

 

In a moment of clarity, I forced myself out of bed one morning and into a local yoga studio and never looked back. I started seeing a therapist and it helped (God, did it help) but yoga was the one thing that grounded me until I found a therapist that I liked and wanted to see regularly. I dove into it and started going to a class 2-3 times/wk. Being able to concentrate on my body and breathe was life-saving. It felt like coming up for air--I hadn't even realized how long I'd been drowning. My mat became my quiet place.

 

I've slowly gotten away from it in the past few weeks (bad breakup and subsequent post-breakup spiral) but I'm really wanting to deepen my practice this year. It's become a form for therapy for me. 

yogafire, juliewa, Hildegard and 1 other like this

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Why did you start doing yoga and how?

 

Errr, it's kind of a funny story :P Honestly, pffff if I know why I started. One day I gathered up the spare cash I had on hand, drove to Walmart and bought the only yoga mat in my budget (of $8, clearly I was investing a lot,) brought it home, googled yoga videos, and the rest is history. I think it came down to the fact that I was tired of feeling like a bump on a log but I hate exercising, so I guess I just was like, "all right. Yoga."

 
How have you changed since practicing yoga for the first time?

 

Well, I don't look as much like a weird crouching bug in downdog? Lol but really, I think one of the biggest things I have learned from yoga is that you have control over how you feel, through giving up that control. The practice of yoga for me is mostly about letting go of how tightly I clench everything all day & miraculously at the end, I feel the way I was trying to feel the whole time I was holding on so tight.

 

(Also I've started meditating, which is something I would have scoffed at trying before yoga.)

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I started doing yoga because I was facing some hard challenges in my life. It seemed everything was falling apart, and I had to do something to be strong and deal with all challenges. By the way, I was alone; all my family was in another country. So I googled some options to help me, and I found yoga videos on Youtube. Through yoga and meditations I have not only learned how to control my emotions, but also how to balance body-mind-spirit. Now I'm feeling awesome, and my body is getting more flexible! =D

 

:Warrior:

 

 

I have done yoga at home, but I'd like to meet nice yogis here in Toronto to practice yoga together.  :)

MrBalloonHands and yogafire like this

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I started practicing yoga while in rehab to correct my posture and as a supplemental excercise to weightlifting and cardio.  My practice followed me out of rehab and became my primary method of excercise.  As my practice continues to blossom it is becoming less of a physical activity and more of a philosophical/spiritual inquiry.  I attribute my sobriety (19 months and counting) to my yoga practice.  Perhaps I was destined to live the Yogi's life. Namaste!

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