Peace of Mind
At the beginning of 2016 I really needed a "New Year, New Me" resolution. A majority of my friends in Brooklyn had been doing yoga for quite awhile and had been dying to have me go to a class with them. I went to humor them. I have always actively practiced the philosophy of Buddhism and believed in the concepts surrounding the spiritual religion but had never done yoga. I, like many others, believed that I would then truly be lumped in with the "hipsters" of Brooklyn. After all I lived in Bushwick, I love wearing flannel, drinking craft beers and IPAs, and I am even the collector of several plants - including a personal garden. The first weekend of last year several of my friends and I met up at Yoga to the People in Williamsburg for my first class. I feel cheesy saying this but it changed my life.
Growing up I was always an active child. I played basketball, soccer and then danced all the way through college. Even today I take classes at Steps on Broadway and BDC, and have been on a women's soccer league in the Bronx for the last five years. When I say yoga changed my life though I mean it changed everything about me. It changed my mind, my body, and my spirit/overall attitude and outlook on life.
Once I started yoga I went hard. I started going 4x a week - either by myself or with friends. I was so surprised by the immediate effect it had on my body. My arms started toning, my abs got even more defined, and my legs (a part of my body I have ALWAYS been insecure about) started getting definition as well. New York is a hectic city. I have worked at least two jobs since moving here so it was nice to finally take an hour to myself - no cellphones, no emails - just focusing on being present and paying attention to what I needed. Before I started at YTTP I thought the yogis I saw on Instagram were just plain annoying. #backtobackbends #yogilife were all hashtags that made my roll my eyes and want to unfollow them. Now I've become one of them because I've realized the amazing feeling to go that extra step for your camel pose, or for holding that lunge one second longer in your power lunge.
I've never really had bad body image issues. Early on I just kind of accepted the fact that I was black so I was going to be curvier and had an athletic body. My issues were never that I wanted to lose weight, but more so that I wanted to tighten and tone everything. There was no chance in hell anyone was getting me to go to a gym so yoga has been the perfect alternative. Most people who have never done it think that it's all about stretching, and that's it. Little do they know that those first few minutes of child's pose - paying attention to each breathe, and focusing on only you and your movement on your mat - is the best exercise you could ever be a part of. The breathing techniques, the poses, the sense of self-awareness help you even outside the studio. I work in the restaurant industry so you bet my host team and I are often taking collective breaths so we don't rip out our hair. Buddhism is all about being present and understanding your mind, body, and spirit - yoga is just another simple step to helping you achieve that absolute Nirvana.
So, what's next for this yogi? Teacher training. To be able to spread the practice of yoga to everyone who is willing - and to be able to further myself as a yogi - I will be undertaking the challenge of becoming a yoga teacher. And who knows, maybe our paths will cross and we can take classes together. Until then - Namaste.