I became part of a community.
Having lived in Toronto for almost 3 years now, you would think I would have networked myself enough to develop a new set of friends… I’ll be honest though, I’m kind of a friend snob. I don’t let just anyone to my inner circle. I guess I’ve either been burned too many times or I just have been so blessed with phenomenal friends back home that the standard is set really high. Anyways, the Hubs and I have about 2 or 3 couples here who we would consider close friends, and tbh that’s enough for us. When it comes to being part of a day to day community though, this has been lacking for me personally, and my yoga studio has filled that void. At the studio, I’m completely surrounded by like(ish) minded individuals who are seeking growth, perspective, wellness, and ultimately, the calm that you can get from meditation.
I lost about 20 pounds.
Not all at once and not solely due to practicing yoga. In 60 days, I did lose 19 pounds, and honestly, I feel more alive than ever. My flow on the mat has really helped my flow in every other aspect of life. I’m making smart choices in the kitchen, and I’m giving my body what it needs more than what it always wants.
Some of you know my story with trainers, work outs and diet plans. I haven’t always done things the healthy way to achieve results, but his time, things are different. I’ve created a lifestyle that isn’t just about restricting and counting. I’m focused on energy. Is what I’m putting into my body going to give me the energy I need for the day? Is it enough? Is it packed with everything BUT energy? These are the questions I ask now.
In more ways than one… I don’t share the same religious beliefs as all of my instructors, and that’s okay. In class, we are actually all super respectful of each others beliefs and have found a language that speaks truth without offending anyone. Plus, one of my instructors totally sends me Joyce Meyer books and Joel Olsteen videos for extra support… Believe what you want, but yoga can actually bring you closer to God, even if you’re a Christian. When I meditate, I just focus on Him. When we talk about energy and the universe, I know what I believe, and I find a way to incorporate that into my personal practice.
My instructors pushed me beyond the limits I set for myself.
Y’all. I can almost stand on my head. Like, what??? If you had told me I would be able to do things like shoulder stands and pigeon pose, I would have laughed. When I started this journey, I hated my body, like hated it to the point where I struggled looking in mirrors. I felt that the days of my body being beautiful were over. Yoga has shown me the exact opposite, and it’s through my teachers pushing me to do things I never thought were possible. Mirrors no longer define me.
I’ll never forget when Arti told me that I was strong. She’s physically one of the strongest people I have ever met. Her body is like a machine. In my second session with her, she kinda laughed and said Wow, you’re really strong. Up until that point, I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I just saw her and my other instructors and thought I was a weak little shrimp unless I could do what they can, but I’m strong now. What my body can do right now is just fine, and as I continue to practice, my strength will only increase.
My perspective on life and others was expanded.
I find that I speak less and listen more. I’m learning that I’d rather hear what other people have to say than just to fill the room with words to prevent the silence from existing. By doing this, I am learning and absorbing so much. Toronto is full of culture and diversity, and when I’m an observer, I’m able to learn. It’s amazing.
Instead of wanting to fill my life with things and people, I began to starve for experiences and conversations. Again, I do a lot more listening that speaking these days. I used to be afraid of so many things, like y’all would think I’m a little coo-coo if I started listing the things that make me uncomfortable. For starters, going to the grocery store totally freaks me out. I can’t pick out meat from the fresh protein section. It grosses me out, and then I feel all weird. I don’t generally like being in public places where I feel like people are looking at me, but I also don’t like being a hermit and totally crave human interactions. Yoga has intensified this craving while removing a lot of the fear factors that I have let hold me back for so long.
This is something that happens more often than not when at the studio. Taking the time to love my body is my way of taking time to love myself. It’s a physical work out that allows me to see just how incredible God’s creations are, and I say that knowing I’m not like some Greek Goddess or anything. But being able to watch my body change and lengthen and stretch in ways that weren’t possible just a few weeks ago, in some weird way, is actually very soothing. It’s the moments when I breath in positivity and breath out negativity that mean the most to me. It’s like a fat flush except I’m flushing out all of the unhealthy and negative thoughts that have been rotting in my mind for years.
I literally cried in the middle of savasana. And it was amazing. First of all, if you know me at all, you know I don’t cry. Like even in times when I desperately need to cry in order to release my emotions through a physical expression, I am often incapable of making tears happen. There are times when I have sat there feeling like I’m crying and just accepting that this is how I cry: no physical tears, just internal emotional expression.
One of the interesting things about yoga is that at the end of class, we go into a more relaxed state usually lying with our backs flat on the floor (on our mats, of course). Sometimes the instructor will guide us through a poem or mantra, and other times, we will just sit and focus on our intention for the class or our day. During one of my more recent classes, the instructor told us to lie there and smile. We were all laying there in a dark room with our eyes closed, and I could not bring myself to smile. She was so encouraging and poured into us with multiple empowering mantras and just really loved on us with her words. But still, I couldn’t smile. She told us to think about things that made us happy, and all I could think about was my grandma. The tears had been fighting me for a few minutes, but at the point when I realized why I couldn’t smile, they streamed down my face and onto the mat. In that moment, I felt healing from her loss like never before. It was like a part of my mind had been unlocked and I was completely free.
This is like a real thing in class, and it honestly has me shook. The first time Shannon firmly instructed to keep our eyes on our own mat, not comparing ourselves to anyone else, everything in my practice changed. I stopped wishing I could get my leg as high as the girl beside me, and I then I did it. I stopped checking to make sure no one was looking at me, just fearing that they would judge me and think I’m not the kinda girl that should be there. Instead, I started looking forward at the mirror, correcting my posture, perfecting my poses and reminding myself that I belong anywhere my soul leads me. When I’d lose focus or start to fall over, I usually stare directly at the front of my mat, and I’m immediately stabilized.
This part of my practice translates into my life the most out of everything else I’ve learned thus far. By focusing on my own mat, I’m able to be what and who I am meant to be. I’m able to listen to my mind and my body and give it what it’s asking for. I’m able to consider how I feel about myself, not how other people feel about me. And at the end of the day, if I don’t like me, that’s more important than someone else not liking me.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: If you let it, Yoga will change your life. It’s only scary at first because you don’t know what to expect. The list above is my version of what you can expect. My fellow yogis are some of the most gentle and strong people I’ve been privileged to meet. They care about life, and they seek more from it.
– the Wife