Five years ago, I would have laughed out loud if someone asked me to attend a yoga class. I could not imagine any sane man willingly subjecting himself to something as BORING and MUNDANE as yoga. Fast forward to today: practicing yoga is one of the highlights of my fitness routine. I love my weekly class; I always leave feeling exhausted, energized, and excited for the next opportunity to practice again.
When I started my fitness journey, I was primarily focused on building strength and stamina. The progress was slow and steady. I gained strength and felt healthier – plus, moving big, heavy things was a great stress reliever. Unfortunately, my flexibility began to suffer; my upper back and neck always felt tight. So, on the recommendation of my trainer, I started going to a yoga class.
My first classes were tough: I struggled through the poses, attempting to keep up with the more experienced practitioners. My ego wouldn’t let me slow down and modify the flow to my skill and comfort level.
Lucky for me, I had a great teacher. With her coaching, my attitude and outlook changed. I focused less on others and began to make my practice unique to me. I stopped having qualms about resting in child’s pose, or modifying a movement if I needed a break. Over time, my body grew to be more flexible and strong. I found that I needed less rest and could do more complicated poses and holds. I can even (on a good day) ease into some arm-balancing and inversion poses.
I’m about two years into my yoga journey, and I’m at the point where I consistently use yoga principles in unexpected parts of life. I am more mindful of how breath can power movement and activity (helpful when I’m trying to crank out a last set of squats). When I feel stressed, I can take five minutes to practice movements to release tension. And I can’t say enough about using a shavansa pose to ease into a more restful sleep.
For anyone in the DFW area, I recommend two yoga studios. The first is Niculture – the practice run by my first yoga instructor. Nic’s classes were a great way for me to get into yoga. I would still be practicing with her today if she was teaching at my gym (my gym no longer offers yoga).
After I left Nic, I went through a few studios until I landed at Summit Gyms. Summit is a great place for anyone thinking of getting into yoga, or for those thinking of taking their practice to the next level. Even better: they offer a number of free and matinee ($5) classes. And best of all, they have classes for all types of yoga: Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Hatha, Ashtanga, and even classes focusing on inversions.