- Strengthen and tone your body
- Increase flexibility
- Reduce stress levels
- Improve your overall well-being
As Mardi Gras, my favorite time of year in New Orleans, quickly approaches a certain MC Hammer song always rings in my ear. “Sweat running all over my chest (chest), I don’t quit no! I just press harder than I ever did before…” you know the rest. It’s funny how these simple words can easily be inspiring.
We’ve all been there, you get sick, go on vacation, or you know… life happens …. and before you know it it’s been weeks since you last found yourself on your mat. Your body actually aches because it’s been so long and the thought of starting back at square one is defeating. When thinking back on it, you had JUST nailed that pose you’ve been struggling with for years and now you are worried that you won’t even be able to hold down dog for too long.
This is reality. I can remember my first yoga class like it was yesterday, can you? The uneasy feeling of walking into a space that I wasn’t familiar with, the beautiful bodies and yoga clothes all around me, the community that I wasn’t yet emerged in, I was literally shaking with nerves. Once class got started my anxiety went to a totally different place: How the hell do I do that?! This was a beginner’s class, but when she said downward facing dog was a resting pose, I thought to myself “well crap…”. Fast forward to the end of class, where I lay, exhausted and sweat dredged but glowing radiantly from how amazing I felt. The next day, parts of my body were sore where I had no idea muscles even existed. I was hooked, and quickly joined the work-trade program for CorePower yoga, which meant I worked at the studio once a week for a few hours and in return had a free membership (because paying $169/month wasn’t in the budget).
I was part of this program for over 5 years. At one point, I was able to do work-trade at the smaller studio that didn’t have showers, so the cleaning aspect took WAY less time than any of the other studios I had previously worked at. For whatever reason during this time is when my life took a huge shift and I found myself showing up less and less on my mat. One week turned into two and that quickly turned into three, my health was suffering, and my mental state was probably like watching a slow motion train wreck like groundhogs day (eek, sorry to everyone that was around me during that time).
I can remember the classes that followed this time in my life. They were challenging, even more so than the ones at the beginning because I knew that my body was capable, at one point, of doing these poses that I was now unable to do. The expectation vs. reality was hard to deal with. It was tough to not feel so disappointed at my lapse, to not feel defeated, but I kept up at it. I made promises to myself to hit mini milestones such as going twice a week, no matter what, or finding little ways to find a newness in these poses that I had once been so familiar with. I promised to give myself a break because my body had changed and that was a good thing (even if it was super frustrating).
We forget about these times in our lives so quickly. I know I had forgotten about this particular time, but the reality is that there will be another time like this. I do not have control over certain situations and there will be a time again in my life that I will, for whatever reason, take a step away from my mat. When I return there will be a shift in my body, a shift in my perspective, the former practitioner will now become a new one. I will crawl before I can walk, I will cry, feel defeated but once again I will grow into a stronger, better version of myself, who will not remember the struggle to get to the place where I land. No matter what… my yoga practice will continue to be… “too legit to quit”. Thank you, MC Hammer, for allowing me to find the lightness in times that feel so dark.