Wellman’s Journey

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It was the last week of December in 2012 when a friend and I walked timidly into the Hot Box Yoga. Wait, let me rewind for a minute.

I saw a plug in my hairdressor’s Facebook group, of all places, for a new yoga studio opening. They were offering free yoga to anyone that wanted to come and see what their new studio was about. I hummed and hawed and thought of a dozen or two reasons of why I shouldn’t go but something nudged me to wander into the studio that wintery day where two bright, smiling faces greeted us (Chris and Sarah of course!). The insignificant choice to try yoga that day, or so I thought it was, has changed my life.

A few days later, New Years Day of 2012 actually, my friend Katie and I decided we would go back to the young couple’s studio. Chris and Sarah had challenged anyone silly enough to do so to complete three back-to-back hot yoga classes, and then jump in the lake (aka ‘Polar Bear Dip’). The prize? A month of unlimited free yoga. Well, we were the only two to do it (I think everyone else was hungover in bed) and I remember thinking, ‘Well, shit. Now I’m freezing and I’ve committed to this yoga thing for a month.”

I remember telling my dad that I was going to give yoga a try, and he said something like “You? You’re the least flexible person I’ve ever met. Good luck with that.” Hmmph – I thought, but in all fairness, he was pretty spot on. And well, my month of free yoga was overwhelming. The classes back then were nearly empty too; sometimes only Katie and I were in the classes, and sometimes just one or two others. So, the beautiful and graceful Sarah taught me the first things I ever learened about practicing yoga. It was all so foreign to me – the use of Sanskrit names like ‘Urdhva Dhanurasana,’ trying to breathe like Darth Vadar, and seeing Sarah contort her body into ways that didn’t seem humanly possible. All the while, I fumbled my way through classes, terrible alignment and all (and painfully avoiding my awkward reflection in the mirror).

Time passed, and something kept bringing me back to my mat (the lemongrass towel at the end of class? Well, perhaps.) I began to see tiny, but remarkable to me, improvements, I started to recognize and understand some of the poses, and I even got the hang of ‘Chatarunga Dandasana’ (both the movements and lingo puzzled me for quite some time, I must admit!). I began to look forward to Sarah’s classes – the heat, the challenge, seeing small improvements in my alignment and flexibility, and, oh, one other thing. The mental aspect of it all. That’s what caught me off guard.

I was one of those who had a love/hate relationship with gyms. I’d go, see some results, then stop going for one reason or another, then start again, and the cycle would repeat. I’ve also had problems with m joints (diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was a teenager) and running was always hard on my legs and joints. So going to the Hot Box in winter was strictly for the physical aspect of it all. Heck, as my dad said, I’m far from graceful, flexible or eloquent. I thought I might find a new fitness routine that would keep me in shape. Anything but the gym!20130922-072121.jpg

So let me tell you where I’m going with all of this. Today, I do yoga six or seven days a week. Baptiste and vinyasa style classes keep me lean and healthy (I don’t think I’ll ever need to lift weights again!), but today I go for so much more than the physical side of yoga. My practice, both on and off the mat has transformed me as an individual, flowing into all aspects of my life. Yoga has given me the self-confidence I had always lacked. It has taught me that the breath can get me through almost anything (I have even stopped cursing when drivers stop in merge lanes!). It has taught me to love my body and value myself as a person. Instead of tolerating the negative affiliations I had in my life, I’ve learned to seek out friends and relationships that serve me. If I miss my daily yoga practice, I feel mentally unbalanced (so much so that Ryan, my wonderful boyfriend, will insist I go so I can be “me” again). Yoga grounds me, quiets my mind and reminds me to take care of myself in all aspects of life, whether it be what I eat or how I talk to myself on a subconscious level.

It will be my two year mark of practicing yoga at the beginning of January, 2014. I’ve just booked my teacher training for that same month in Costa Rica and I’m sure I’ll never look back. Yoga has been such a blessing that I want to share it with others. Walking into the Hot Box studio not long ago (terrified of the ‘mystical,’ unknown, flexible-people-only, practice of yoga) changed omy life. If anyone reading this is considering trying yoga for the first time, but nervous and apprehensive as I was, I say go for it. Your life, both on and off your mat, just might change for the better. Oh, and on a sidenote, a lot of those fancy, ‘impossible’ poses I was bewildered by? They aren’t so bad now. And one more thing – if my dad ever ends up reading this – I think your daughter just may have picked up some poise and flexibility somewhere along the way.
-Stephanie Wellman

K ☮ ♡ Y

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