leaving my commitment issues behind



130527_tina01_bMy confession: yoga annoys me.

Or at least it used to.

In my first yoga class a decade ago, I spent the hour looking around the room cursing under my breath at all the bendy people who could easily touch their toes or sit comfortably cross-legged for 10 minutes. And I particularly hated the fact that it didn’t seem to bother anyone else that others were more flexible or grounded or strong. Where was the sense of competition?

My athletic life has always been built around sports or races: hockey, softball, half marathons, and triathlons. I love the feeling of crossing a finish line, or winning a hockey game. And I even like losing games, because at least it gives a clear result.

So, the idea of yoga being a never-ending “practice” blew my mind. What are we practicing for? When’s the event? How do you know if you’ve achieved your goals?

But when I hurt my knee a couple of months ago and couldn’t run, I decided that perhaps it was time to explore the world of yoga to see if it could help me rehab and build my core strength.

This is when I announced to my friends and family that I was going to do a 30-day yoga challenge.

This was a way to put yoga on my terms: I had a clear goal and would know when I accomplished it. So I embarked on a month of exploring all different styles of yoga and really immersing myself in this world of “practice”. And what I discovered amazed me.

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The physical benefits were great but the biggest reward was what I learned about myself.

130527_number1_smI learned that when you let go of fear, you can do amazing things.

I usually stick to the beginner poses because surely I could never do crow pose, right? Well, doing yoga everyday made me want to try more new things because if I fail, I know I have 7 chances a week to get it right.

And I realized that not only were there some poses that I could do, the act of just trying them was way more fun than not! No, I still can’t do crow pose but I can do a headstand, hold eagle pose endlessly, and can even do Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (google that one…)

130527_number2_smI learned why yoga is a practice, and not a game/sport/goal.

There is an amazing amount of peacefulness that comes from giving yourself permission to be exactly where you are. Sports and races are all about getting somewhere and becoming better, faster, and stronger. I found that by giving myself permission to be in my practice every single day, without setting an end result, I felt more confident, proud and in touch with who I really am.

And who I am is awesome, even if I can’t touch my toes.

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130527_number3_smI learned that commitment is a beautiful thing.

I knew that no matter what else was happening that day, I would find time for yoga. We became friends and I relied on yoga to pull me through some tough days.

It’s scary to commit to something you’re not sure you can accomplish but there is no better feeling than the realization that you’re as strong, passionate, and able as you always thought you could be.

I’m excited that my true yoga journey is only just beginning, and although I will always love the feeling of making a PB in a race, I can’t wait to get back on my mat.

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22 Comments »


Hi Tina,

Do you do yoga at a studio or at home? (or both?)

I would really like to commit like you have… Doing it at home like with a video or something probably wouldn’t work that well for me, and the nearest studio is like a 30 minute drive…

Comment by Ayeja — May 28, 2013 @ 12:00 am


Amazingly motivational post. Sent shivers down my spine: “Who I am is awesome. Even if I can’t touch my toes.” In today’s life, where everything is about being better, stronger, faster – this post reminds us of the strength we can find by looking within.

Comment by Eva — May 28, 2013 @ 5:42 am


Great story – thanks for sharing! I too fear the mat, but you’ve inspired me to perhaps give it another go.

Comment by Samantha — May 28, 2013 @ 9:26 am


This is such an inspiring post that I’m sure MANY people can relate to. Write more please!

Comment by Alana — May 28, 2013 @ 1:48 pm


Hey Ayeja,
I did most of my yoga at a studio, as I found that having a teacher leading the class was really motivational to me. I love that they can help you out with postures or modify if needed. I’m lucky in that I live pretty close to a couple of studios. I did do some yoga at home too – and I just used YouTube to find videos. There are some great ones out there (MyYogaOnline is great!) and I did find that sometimes doing it in my own home was sometimes exactly what I needed.
~ Tina

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — May 28, 2013 @ 3:28 pm


Tina I love this post!!!

Comment by Allessia — May 28, 2013 @ 6:32 pm


Hey Tina, thanks for the response. Yeah, I’d like to go to a studio for the same reason. I’m very close to deciding to just go for it, the nearest studio to me has a really good deal on an unlimited two-week pass…

Oh yeah, MyYogaOnline is great, I subscribe to them…

Namaste :)

Comment by Ayeja — May 28, 2013 @ 10:18 pm


Amazing – thanks for sharing!

Comment by Kevin — May 28, 2013 @ 10:30 pm


This is my FAVOURITE blog post to date. Every point you made was spot on. It has taken me a year to release my competitive side when I’m on my matt, and it’s still a struggle once in a while. If yoga teaches me nothing else, being okay with who I am in this exact moment is enough. Thank you for your motivational words.

Comment by sarah — May 29, 2013 @ 6:09 am


Hi Tina,

Great story! How’s your knee? I also have knee issues from marathon training and hoping yoga can help!

Thanks
Rachel

Comment by Rachel — May 29, 2013 @ 10:04 am


Great post! I felt very much the same way when I started practicing yoga, I always was competing with others in my class. Once I was able to focus and figure out that yoga is not about competing, it transformed me!! Thanks for putting it into words!

Comment by Kristy Barnes — May 29, 2013 @ 11:42 am


My initial reason for starting yoga was do get away from the kids and do something for myself. As I progressed it became more spiritual for me. It’s given me a fresh outlook on like but have also improved my body both inside and out.

Comment by Tania — May 29, 2013 @ 1:51 pm


Amazing post Tina…I totally relate. Keep writing!!! xxoo

Comment by Alexis — May 29, 2013 @ 4:35 pm


thank you for THIS. today of all days. i am dressed and ready for my practice but i leave with something more because of this insight from you.

THANK YOU.

Comment by Sunshine Gonzalez — May 29, 2013 @ 4:36 pm


Really awesome Tina! This especially… “There is an amazing amount of peacefulness that comes from giving yourself permission to be exactly where you are.”

100% agree!

Comment by jen — May 29, 2013 @ 4:38 pm


I am very competitive like you and find it really hard to engage in yoga. So I’m curios which type you like the best and works for you? Maybe I’m doing the wrong kind of yoga for my personality and should try some others. Great post!

Comment by Mary — May 29, 2013 @ 5:52 pm


Hi Mary,
I (surprisingly) fell in love with Hot Yoga during this challenge. It was great for me because it tends to be a similar routine of postures each time, so I would focus on trying to challenge myself in a pose a little more than I had the day before. In that way it let me compete with myself, so still filled that need in me :) I also learned to really appreciate Yin yoga (which is physically less demanding, but was mentally challenging for me)!
~ Tina

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — May 30, 2013 @ 11:16 am


Over a decade ago you took me to my first yoga class, at which time I was sceptical :) I’ve done lots of yoga over the years since, but not much lately. You’ve really inspired me to get back to the practice!
Thanks for inspiring us all!

Comment by Beth — May 30, 2013 @ 12:25 pm


love this! I HATED my first yoga class. I just didn’t get it and downward dog was the weirdest thing to me… but now.. I love it and own a yoga studio! we should always try out new things a few times before we write them off! http://extendyoga.com

Comment by arlet — June 4, 2013 @ 2:25 pm


i love this post and am a competitive person myself! I’ve done yoga sine i was 16 but would stop, say it was boring and a waste of time….until i had a knee injury running and at the same time was going through a breakup and was all kinds of sad and hurt lol…so i went to yoga, and then i went back, and then i realized that yoga strengthened everything emotionally as well as physically in every aspect of my life. And today i run everyday….as long as i keep up with yoga:)

Comment by Tiare Vincent — June 7, 2013 @ 9:40 pm


Tina,

Thanks for reminding me why I love my practice and why it’s been my one and only saving grace that has pulled through in the worst of times but also allowed me to shine in the best. Yes it’s a practice and it’s challenging not just because of the physical practice of doing it and committing to it, but because it forces me to look at myself, where I am at in a point in time, and really be in the moment. Not often enough do we take the time to step back and just be present.

Comment by Jenna Rapues — June 14, 2013 @ 1:02 pm


Awesome!! So proud of you. I still haven’t jumped into a 30-day yoga challenge yet, but promise that I am doing some things I’m scared of. Thanks for the inspiration. –jenn

Comment by Jennifer Howard-Brown — June 17, 2013 @ 4:00 pm


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