I was once a runner. I ran miles and miles and enjoyed it. I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it. At times, I simply tolerated it. My body responded to running with sore legs (somewhat bulkier than I would prefer), a tight back and ugly toenails. It wasn’t glamorous, it was running.
I had friends who practiced yoga. They tried to convert me and I would judgmentally laugh. Yoga? Like, “ommmmm” yoga? Like “this-really-isn’t-a-workout” yoga. I declined their offers to visit a yoga studio dozens of times. Count me out! People don’t workout in “studios”, they workout in gyms or on the open road.
After completing my second year running the Blue Ridge Relay, I returned home from the 212 mile race feeling broken. Literally, broken. Nothing worked. I was so sore. I was so unhappy with the results of running. Bigger legs, a nasty appetite, and toe nails that would make a manicurist faint.
In a moment of weakness, I stepped onto a mat for my first yoga class. I nearly died. It was hard. I struggled. The instructor was speaking another language. The other people in the class flowed and gracefully danced into torturous looking positions. I could barely keep it together. At one point, I just put my head on my mat and laughed.
The next day I was uncomfortable. Not sore, just stretched. My muscles seemed happy. I felt good. No, I felt great. Was this what I’ve been missing? I continued to take classes at the YMCA focusing on two instructors who literally helped change my life. Beth Campbell and Amy Morris. These woman are the definition of lovely. They helped teach me. They guided me. They showed me that yoga is more than a series of movements, it is a lifestyle.
On a cold Saturday morning I stepped into Y2 Yoga for my first hot class in a real studio. Everyone was supportive, happy and sweaty. I twisted my body into positions that don’t exist naturally. Kacy Pleasants was the instructor and she was inspiring. Her humor and positive words just felt like a warm hug. Her vibe was contagious. (Kacy is still my favorite instructor and I would walk through fire to take her class.) I loved all 55 minutes of grueling, beautiful effort. The last five minutes changed my outlook on life. Shavasana was our final pose. It requires complete stillness. You lie flat and listen to your breathing and think of nothing. Which got me thinking, when was the last time I thought of nothing? Never.
Let me explain one thing, yoga at Y2 breaks all stereotypes. It isn’t calm, it isn’t easy. It is fast paced, it is upside down, it is loud and fun. It is unique and amazing. When I’m having a rough patch I walk into the studio and go to my mat. It always puts life into perspective.
I haven’t give up on running. I hit the pavement a couple of times a week for short 2 or 3 mile runs. However, I practice yoga a much as I can. Some weeks it is three or four times. Some weeks it is only once. My heart aches when I can’t practice.
I just celebrated my one year anniversary practicing yoga. In one year I have become a different person. Sure, I look better, but that isn’t even the glory of it.
I am better.
I am more focused.
I am confident.
I can hit poses that seem impossible.
I am healthier.
I am more connected.
I am more in love.
I am more peaceful.
I am a reformed runner.
I am a yogi.
Love this (and you), KW. I felt calm just reading it and knowing about your journey. Bravo.
THIS SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. I could have written this. Amy, Beth, Laurie and Greg have transformed my life at the Harris Y. I’ve been doing yoga for 13 years and stopped for a while after kids (WTF was I thinking?!!) Now I have been consistently going 2-3 times a week for a year and I feel better than EVER. Body and mind. Thank you for writing this! I think we are kindred spirits!