I desperately needed a yoga class today. I sat in my room staring at piles and piles of clothes, books, pictures frames, junk that needed to be sorted, packed, and crammed into my tiny car. I felt anxious and overwhelmed. All I wanted to do was curl up under the covers and go to sleep, hoping that when I woke up, I wouldn’t be about to change my entire world, and that if I was, I would be a bit more excited about it. I opened the fridge and saw two options: green juice and wine. Ok, a ton of beer and random crap as well, but I was only focused on those two. I grabbed the green juice and checked my 3 favorite yoga studio’s schedules. Y2. 715. Jen.
I was (shockingly) a few minutes early. I sat in the parking lot, still feeling overwhelmed, and questioned just running into panera and getting a cheese filled panini and salad drenched in dressing to pair with my wine. Oh, I’d probably need to stop and get more wine. I told myself that I was tired, I was stressed, and my mind couldn’t handle an intense class right now. What? that doesn’t make any sense. And I wasn’t tired. I had stayed in bed until 11 today.
So I got out of the car and went to the class. Within 30 seconds of it starting I knew that I had made the right choice and that I was exactly where I needed to be. Jen’s classes are physically intense, but she’s an incredible teacher, one of my favorite ever. She plays great music, gives great assists, and often feels like a mindreader. My mind raced throughout the entire class and while I tried so hard to quiet it and stay present in the room, I think I needed that time to flush out all of the crap circling around my brain this evening.
Some of the “crap” that was circling around my brain was not crap at all. I reflected on how grateful I am to have found yoga, and what the practice has provided me over the last six years. The most profound lesson that I have learned from practicing yoga is that I am enough. Every class, every day, no matter what is going on in my life, I, myself, as I am, am enough. It doesn’t mean I don’t need others, it just means that sometimes we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and appreciate what we have in ourselves. Every time I show up on my mat I am exactly who I should be. Every single class will be different, even if it is same teacher, same sequence of postures, same music. On any given day I can be the student doing the advanced version of every pose, and on another I can be the one staying in child’s pose for the duration of the class. It doesn’t matter.
Ok, maybe this sounds a little cheesy, but please, keep reading.
There are time when I just feel awful. Whether it is physically or emotionally, I feel awful, and I don’t think I can get through a yoga class, or that I even deserve to. My practice is still there for me. I have never regretted a class and I always leave feeling better about something in my life.
I started practicing yoga when I was in law school. I didn’t love it at first. My friend Caroline (hey boo!) and I started taking Melora’s class at the Gold’s Gym in Charleston, South Carolina. We would laugh at each other and joke about how silly it was, but we still kept showing up. After I got more comfortable with yoga I started going to Mark Knowle’s classes, he teaches Jivamukti yoga. His classes were tough and pushed me outside of every comfort level. We had to sing in sanskrit and stand on our heads and I was almost always confused as to what I was doing and how I got there. But I still kept going back. I will never forget the words that Mark would always say when he would put us into challenging poses – “if you can, then you must.” See, he had this way of one or two times showing us that we could do a pose, even if it was uncomfortable or weird, and then once we knew that it was possible, he would say that line. It has been a lesson that I have carried with me ever since.
I joined Charleston Power Yoga at the start of my second year of law school. I did a 60 day challenge where I practiced 6 days a week for 60 days. That was probably the major turning point in my practice. This “workout” became so much more to me and I am forever grateful to Jessica, Sarah, and Beth. The lessons and mantras, confidence and wisdom that I learned from them is incredible, and I was really happy to see that they have opened another studio in Charleston. The more that can be inspired by them, the better.
See: power vinyasa
Yoga has helped me deal with stress, it has helped me get a handle on the wild things our mind can do to us. It constantly reminds me to stay present in what is going on around me, and to be grateful for what I have, and for who I am.
Yoga has also reminded me of how strong and how beautiful my body is. Yoga has shown me the vast amount of physical and mental strength that I am capable of.
When I moved to Charlotte, I started practicing at Yoga One in Plaza Midwood. I mostly went to Liz Smolin’s classes, which are mostly 90 minute, music free, super challenging classes. Liz is incredible. She has this way of saying all the right things, and making you laugh when you feel like you want to curse the world for ever leading you to such a hot, sticky practice. Her kindness radiates from her, and she is a rare gem. The opportunity to learn from her and practice with her has been an absolute gift.
I have practiced at Y2 quite frequently and I have to say that their facility is incredible. It is a clear yoga community, including a sushi bar, take out, and smoothie bar. The classes are HOT, fast, and I think the most physically challenging I’ve taken. They have TONS of classes, so if you are ever looking for a class at an off time, check there. They’re bound to have something.
The Charlotte studio that has had the most profound effect on me has been Charlotte Yoga. I found them a little less than a year ago. I was going through an emotionally difficult time and in an effort to pull myself out what felt like a dark, dark place, I bought an unlimited month there. The studio had recently been purchased and revamped by Kyle Conti and the energy at that place was incredible. I found that the teacher’s each put their own signature on their classes and each was so unique. During this time it was a daily struggle to get myself to go, but I knew that if I committed to it, and made myself just get there that I would reap the benefits in no time. My time at Charlotte yoga renewed my love for yoga. But more importantly, it renewed my love for my body, and my spirit, during a time when I felt like both had failed me. Charlotte Yoga will always hold a special place in my heart for those reasons.
Oh, and they have a 17 year old teacher. Her classes are awesome, and I am so excited to see a high school student with such insight, and such a bright future ahead of her. The first time I took her class I couldn’t stop wondering how different my life would have been if I had found yoga so young.
Practicing yoga reminds me of my strength, and it makes me feel beautiful. It is often a physical and mental roller coaster, but I always leave feeling better, feeling lighter than I did when I walked in the door.
I spent the day (ok, the last few days) letting the fear of the future take over everything I was doing, everything I was feeling. I needed to let that go. Tonight, while I was sad that it was likely my last class with Jen, I still felt a sense of relief…weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. So, thank you, again, Jen, yoga, all of it.
“feel and release your fears. see how needless they are? see how they keep you from enjoying life? unclench your hands. Don’t always look straight ahead. experience. adventure. let yourself live.”
As the man said, “you’ll be fine.”