This one time I tried yoga.

I totally missed the boat on Tuesday’s International Day of Yoga! So unfortunate, as I’ve been meaning to write a post about my experience with yoga so far. Better late than never…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m kind of a stressed out person. My functional medicine doctor picked up on this pretty much right away and recommended (or rather, required) starting a yoga practice as well as daily deep breathing exercises. I’ve been terrified of both yoga and any type of meditation since high school. First, I can’t even touch my toes – how would I even begin to start a yoga practice? Second, any time I am required to breathe on command I suddenly feel like I cannot breathe. I was even excused from the meditation unit in my high school spirituality class because the teacher could see that it was making me incredibly anxious.

I ignored my doctor’s recommendation completely for the first two months. I didn’t even try the breathing exercise. But, the more I reflected on my functional medicine journey and the more I researched the health issues that were uncovered, I started to recognize the profound role that stress played in my health history to date.

Read More: “Minimize Stress”.

I decided to give yoga a shot. I reached out to my coworker and friend who regularly practiced yoga in the hopes that she would just teach me the basics so I didn’t have to face an actual class. Nope. She was insistent on taking me to a class, thinking that I needed the full experience to determine whether I could handle it. And she promised she would stand next to me the whole time…

Reluctantly, I committed to a 5:30pm power yoga class on Tuesday, April 26 at Cleveland Yoga. This “Power Vinyasa Yoga” class takes place in what seems like a zillion degree room (in reality: 98-105 degrees), and the stifling heat + amount I was sweating was actually a pleasant distraction from the fact that I had literally know idea what I was doing. But, I survived! And I decided to commit to a 30 day pass ($40 cost is the best deal the studio offers) to actually give the yoga thing a shot.

Side Note: It was actually quite convenient that I tried yoga the day before my first functional medicine center follow up, because my doctor grilled me on what I was doing for stress management – “I just committed to trying yoga for 30 days!” Not good enough, but it was at least something!

In the 30 days, I attended 11 yoga classes, including a few before work at 6am! What?!?!?! Who does that. I certainly don’t.

In all seriousness, I actually started to get the hang of the yoga poses and saw progress in my flexibility as I took additional classes. My personal trainer and I even tested my flexibility to see if my flexibility actually improved; I increased my “sit and reach” test by almost 40% in 30 days!

I also LOVE (love love love) the hot room and the amount of sweat that pours out of my body. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like I’m more connected to the universe than I am, but it just feels so clean and pure.

And finally, I tried out a lot of different instructors during my 30 days, and I found that I enjoyed the instructors that turned yoga into more of a workout. My absolute favorite is Kate Curtis – her classes are the most athletic, even including a killer ab sequence in every class. I love it.

I want this shirt so badly!

But, therein lies the problem. I gravitated toward the most athletic yoga class I could find. Don’t get me wrong, I feel TOTALLY calm in savasana (final pose of every class, also called “dead man’s pose” – you just lie there), but if the primary goal is to de-stress, perhaps I should continue exploring different types of yoga. Kate teaches at 11:45am every Sunday and I plan to add her class into my weekly schedule workout schedule permanently, while also continuing to experiment with different types of yoga until I truly find my zen.

Next up: Zack’s Mom recommended that I check out her friend and yoga teacher, Olga Chwa. Olga specializes in yoga for digestion, and given my lack of ability to break down protein + general stressy-ness, she thinks this type of yoga would be perfect for me. I’m going to give it a shot this Wednesday – I’ll let you know how it goes. Also, she gave me a yoga nidra meditation to try…I think trying meditation will help develop my yoga practice as well!

So, in summary: Yoga was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Cleveland Yoga rocks, Kate Curtis rocks, and I’ve added a power yoga class to my weekly workout routine. Now to try to tackle to more calming aspects of yoga…

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