I have a confession to make: I don’t like sports.
None of them.
I can’t follow the world cup, I don’t see the point in watching a tennis match and I can’t understand what’s exciting about cars running laps. Hold the tomato and bear with me!
That’s not to say I hate sports, or disdain them, or even that I dislike exercise – I don’t! I understand that exercise is one of the most critical aspects of well-rounded health and sports are some of the most important forms of human expression; dating back to our very first settlements and thankfully evolving from tossing heads to tossing balls. And we need them. A lot.
But the thing is, I don’t like competition. I’ve never been attracted to it and I have always rather thought it tends to bring out the worst in people. Most sports are competitive in nature.
In this predicament, you can correctly imagine that I didn’t grow up to be very fit or athletic.
Not for lack of trying; my mother, bless her soul, tried her very best to get me interested in sports, both for my health and to improve my then unappealing tooth-pick frame. (I embellish; as a child I looked like a spider alien with a big head and thin little arms and legs.)
My Un-Athletic Journey to Yoga:
As a child I tried gymnastics and loved them! Until I was yelled at and punished, subsequently quitting/getting kicked out of the team for throwing a thermos at my instructor’s head. I was seven or eight. ( I regret nothing!)
My mother also enrolled me in swimming lessons – which I promptly quit as soon as I was told I would grow to look like a broad-shouldered toad – and later in the track team, where I only lasted a few weeks. By age ten my mother had given up and so had I.
However, I have a scoliosis and even a non-competitive girl understands that sitting ten hours a day at a desk is not the way to good health and by age twenty I was back to trying to find something that made me feel good. And look good, because let’s face it we all want to, at some point.
I tried and failed to commit to a gym practice for years; it bored me to tears! I tried jogging and loved it until my left knee got busted when I got hit by a car and between school, work and traveling all exercise fell to the side.
Until I found yoga and more recently: Yoga With Adriene
See, with yoga there’s no reason to compete. You’re not there to sweat off “fat” or to master a headstand. With yoga you’re there to cultivate a practice of patience, compassion, kindness, self-love and physical strength like you’ve never known before.
Yoga means ‘union’ or ‘connection’ in Sanskrit, and it’s about connecting the mind, the body and the spirit through a mindful practice that grows over time, making you a more relaxed, compassionate and strong individual.
Finally! Something I could enjoy, improve my health with and actually get toned/stronger.
I have practiced yoga on and off for years, but have started a daily practice with the “Yoga With Adriene” free YouTube videos, practicing only 30 minutes or so a day, and can see improvement relatively quickly. I cannot recommend them and her enough, no other yoga teacher has ever made me feel so connected to my body or the universe before.
I went from not being able to touch my toes, to resting my head on my knee in a pose called Janu Sirsasana (pictured above), from having no upper body strength to doing side-planks, from being afraid to doing a headstand against a wall. All, in a relatively short time following videos at home or on the road with the beautiful and kind Adriene Mishler.
Above all, I found through the practice a way to be kinder to myself, to love and appreciate my body more right where it’s at, with the jiggle and bounce, because it’s the vessel of my soul.
If you’re anything like me, averse to competition, not particularly into sports, not very athletic and want to cultivate patience, strength and resilience while getting healthy, I strongly recommend that you try yoga.
So you can “move from a place of connect, on and off the mat”
– Adriene Mishler.
Yoga has helped me to find myself emotionally, to better respond to the ups and downs of life, it is helping me to gain mental as well as physical strength and it is my way to stay sane. The best part? All you need to do yoga is willingness, show up on your mat if you have one, or put a towel on the floor and practice. If you fall, we’ll catch you. If you miss a day, there’s always the next.
No need to compete, no need to be the best. Just be there. Present.
So you can enjoy more of life by being in the moment, honoring your body where it’s at, with its limitations and incredible prowess, no matter what size, age or ability you have.
Try yoga for the workout, stay for the spiritual growth.
Here’s a couple of pictures of me from September 2016 and January 2017 – just to show you it works. But don’t make it about the look, make it about the practice.
(Never mind the messy background, I’ll take better pictures in the future I promise!)
“Yoga is not just repetition of a few postures – it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.”
― Amit Ray,
Here’s to your journey to yoga, or to whatever connects you to the everlasting energy of the universe, to whatever brings you peace, makes you love yourself more and be more compassionate towards yourself and others.
PS: I am not connected in any way to Yoga With Adriene, she just happens to be the only instructor to have inspired me to stay consistent and come back over and over to the mat. There are many qualified instructors on and offline, so find whatever you feel is best for you 🙂