I’m a college student attending a university in the middle of mountains, trees, and lakes. My school is full of hipsters and clean-eating, tree hugging, earth lovers.
I’ve never really been that type, but I’ve always secretly wanted to be.
So, upon my arrival, I decided I’d finally hop on the bus. I decided to start shopping at the co-op, I bought a pair of TOMS, and even signed up for a yoga class offered in my school’s fitness complex.
I started with beginner yoga in the evenings, and after a year, moved on to the more advanced class, Yoga Groove.
I enjoyed my teachers, who both seemed to live the life I've always wanted: so at peace with themselves and the earth, moving with grace and poise.
With my teachers as models, I continued my yoga practice despite my growing hatred for it.
How, you might ask, could I possibly hate yoga?
After all, everyone loves yoga, right? My friends and neighbors practice yoga regularly, and it seems that every website, magazine, or doctor has something positive to say about yoga. It's great for the body, mind, and soul, and even helps our sex life (and who wouldn’t love that)? Everyone seems to think yoga is cool, so naturally, I felt I had to agree.
But to be honest, I hated yoga.
Sure, I got in touch with my body, but unfortunately I got in touch with the parts I despised most. (My belly hangs out during child’s pose, my arm doesn’t straighten, which makes my moves lopsided and awkward, and makes my boobs look extra tiny in my sports bra.)
Yoga was reminding me that I’m not flexible or healthy, and that I have a long way to go if I want to get there.
Plus, deep down I felt lame doing yoga just because everyone else was doing it. I don't do things just to fit in.
So, after another miserable and frustrating yoga class, I was lying on my mat watching the clock when I realized that I was missing the point.
I turned my head and watched everyone lying so peacefully on their mats exploring their minds, so I decided to take a look at my own.
After all, why had I been attending yoga for over a year if I wasn’t getting something out of it? I could tell that the “cool factor” wasn’t the only thing bringing me back each week.
So after some soul-searching, I realized that I loved yoga because it gave me time alone, to relax, to think and pray. I loved yoga because it was time to throw up my hair and just be me. And I’m slowly learning to love myself, too.
It took an entire year of hating yoga to finally realize that I'd been practicing to be cool and sexy and healthy and to hopefully fulfill my corny fantasy of meeting my soul mate in yoga class.
But because I was doing yoga for the wrong reasons, none of these things were happening. Instead, I spent my time hating that everyone else could see my awkward belly flab and bent arm. I hated their boobs and I was envious of their flexibility. I was mad that after yoga, everyone in the class grabbed a salad, while I stuck to my carb-filled pasta loaded with sauce.
I realized that I was on a dangerous cycle of hating my body, loving everyone else’s, and not actually working to fix my own. Yoga was becoming a time for me to silently stew in my self-hatred and envy everyone else.
So, as I lay on my mat, I flipped my hands and started accepting love instead of giving it.
I’m now setting intentions in class instead of thinking through the homework I have to do when I get out, and I’m making yoga my time.
Since I’ve made the change, I’ve learned to love myself a little bit more, my gratitude journal is overflowing, and my confidence has increased. I’ve started grabbing carrots with my meal and skipping dessert, and I’ve actually started looking forward to yoga each week.
I hope you all to make yoga your time, too.