From Fast to Flow

Finding the place for yoga in my fast-paced world.

Being Faster. Stronger. Harder. Sweatier. THIS was all I cared about. Constant movement that involved pushing myself and ignoring anything (my body) telling me to stop. Being an athlete my whole life has put me in the mindset of having a need for constant DOING with complete disregard for the importance of just BEING. I didn’t want to be still…ever.

I hated sleeping. I hated resting. I hated sitting in a car. The thought of lying in a room and stretching and breathing for an hour sounded like my hell. Yoga was nowhere on my radar as something I would ever find value in or something that I would ever give up my time to go do. I thought it was ridiculous. I was ignorant and uneducated. After my college athlete days, when I first moved to Charlotte, I got involved in the running community and just did my strength training on my own. I still had negative views about yoga and always considered it “not for me.”

I became a Personal Trainer a couple years ago and since studying for that, I’ve become more fascinated with different forms of fitness and the human body in general. I became intrigued by movement patterns and the way our bodies are supposed to feel and just like that, yoga started creeping into the interest box of my brain. The past year and a half I have dipped my toes into it and then this past few months I’ve really discovered a need for it in my life. I dove in. I even bought the expensive mat.

I’ve told a couple yoga teacher friends how I toss around weights and kettlebells every day, but nothing makes me feel stronger than during a yoga class. It’s true! There’s something about using my own body to control my bodyweight in different poses and movements that makes me feel very steady, in control, and strong. There’s no pushing limits- only pushing through hesitations. There’s no requirements or strict to-do list. It’s open and free, yet steady and fluid. It’s a practice. I’ve been practicing three times a week now and I’ve seen huge benefits both physically, and mentally.

As a trainer who does a lot of HIIT style weight training, my muscles were
constantly contracted. Lord knows I never took the time to stretch appropriately after
classes or workouts (do as I say, not as I do), so I never felt “released” from the tension in
my body and most importantly, I never allowed myself to actually listen to it. I’ve
learned through yoga that if you listen, your body will tell you what it needs and most
importantly, what it can’t handle at the moment.

One of my amazing yoga teachers said, “whatever you’re doing right now is plenty.” I liked that word and I’ve actually started using it when I teach my classes. Plenty = enough. It’s a word that forces you to accept where you are at the moment. Whatever it is… whether you’re doing a triple axel in the front (I know- wrong sport, but I don’t know all the yoga words yet), or sitting in child’s pose in the back, it is plenty.

As I slowly open my mind, and allow myself to be (I’m going to say that God-awful word) vulnerable, at times, I’m finding yoga to bring me so much clarity and confidence in such a short time. It has been my therapy, and probably will continue to be. As a self-proclaimed “non-talker” my mind held a lot of information that I never listened to and it turns out, I’ve had a lot to say. There’s something about thinking through these things all while moving and flowing with strength that creates the perfect recipe for release. I appreciate the practice of yoga just as much as I appreciate strength training. The combo of the two, I believe, is necessary to maintain a healthy body and mind. We all have to even out the different levels of intensity in which we live. I don’t ever think I’ll stop living in my high intensity world, but I’m so glad I’ve realized how much I need that balance of stillness and flow to offset it. I am craving the challenges that yoga brings in all aspects and I’m so glad I put my ego, guard, and judgments aside in order to experience it.

Cheers to a year full of flow and finding gold in something new.