Shhh... Don't Tell Anyone. I'm about to admit something. Something that I've resisted and have brushed off for years:
"I f*&king LOVE yoga!"
There, I said it. In my 20s, I had severe debilitating back issues including multiple bulged discs. Friends would always annoyingly give the unsolicited, "You should do yoga," advice. Several years ago, I tried going to the "big box" yoga classes which was really more of an excuse to buy cute yoga outfits than it was to develop a yoga routine. My very short practice ended in frustration and even more back pain due to the lack of personal attention to my injuries and postural compensations. Surrounded by 30-50 sweaty people cramped in close quarters with just one instructor just wasn't my thing, apparently.
From then on, I gave up and shunned yoga. It wasn't this magic "cure-all" kool-aid that I was led on to believe, and my short lived yoga practice made my back pain even worse. I was so sick of people telling me that my back would feel so much better if I'd just do some yoga, in which I'd respond to shove a yoga block up their ass. In pain (and now friendless), how would my Type-A, immediate results-oriented personality, and ailing body get to a place of waking up without pain?
For the next few years, I was able to surf, paddle board, and swim without too many painful episodes. The occasional deep tissue massage or stretching seemed to keep me doing the activities I loved. Still, I'd wake up every morning with very tight hips and shoulders. My low back pain was always something that I'd be aware of, and just tried not to overdo it. "Thriving" certainly wasn't the word I'd describe my health and body, but at least I wasn't bed-ridden in pain. So I was feeling average, or a C; and nobody truly aspires to being a C student.
Toward the end of 2017, I asked myself, "What would my life look like if my mobility and flexibility weren't holding me back?" I envisioned my day looking like this: Waking up without any pain or tightness in the morning. Going for a surf, and being able to do more progressive turns and maneuvers. Working a full day without feeling like my back would hurt the next day. After work, perhaps doing a workout, hike, or skate. Also, my pain wouldn't be a barrier in being more present in my relationships, and my mind would also feel free. I envisioned not just living the life I want to live without pain, but doing my beloved activities BETTER than before. And mo' betta means mo' fun, and isn't that the whole point of living?
Now, where to start? Hat in hand, I solicited the help of few yogi friends whom I rolled my eyes at after hearing about all their sweaty hot yoga sessions all those years back. I needed a very experienced instructor who knows proper alignment and anatomy who could help me become more mobile and flexible. Oh, and sans all that yoga chanting and "breathing the golden light into your soul" bullshit.
I made myself a promise: yoga twice a week for a month. A very small and achievable goal. At the recommendation of a couple friends, I found Wisdom Flow Yoga Studio. After perusing the class schedule, I saw "Sports Recovery Yoga" with Bobby Reader, which sounded right up my alley. During class, I was impressed with the Jazz music and that the practice wasn't the super-ultra-yoga-ish vibe. However, during the poses, my ADHD went in overdrive and couldn't help but watch the clock wondering when I could get out of there. The class ended and I felt decent, but I found it a little boring.
Two days later, I surfed my best and longest session of my life. My body felt loose, and I was surfing with so much more determination, confidence, and awareness. 100% pain free. Hmm...maybe there is something to this whole yoga thing after all?! I was sold, and now had all the motivation I needed to continue my yoga practice.
I ended up attending Bobby's classes 3 times weekly because of the benefits and improvements I'd seen. After just one week, I noticed that I was able to breathe much deeper, wake up without any tightness, and perform better in all my activities. I even started looking forward to class and really enjoyed the presence it gave me. When you've been handcuffed to pain for years and finally wake up one morning without pain, it's one of the most amazing and grateful feelings to experience. I look forward to continuing my yoga practice and truly thriving in my activities.
For those who want to increase mobility and decrease pain but have been intimidated or turned off by yoga, I suggest starting with a restorative yoga class. Start gentle! If start with a level 2 hot yoga flow class, you're just setting yourself up for failure. Be kind to yourself as you're learning, and don't push yourself too hard. It may take trying a few different instructors to figure out who works the best for you, but stick with it. You'll notice a difference in the way you feel after just a couple classes. Hey, if I can enjoy yoga, then anyone can!
Need more motivation? Shop our leggings collection. When you look good, you feel good!
How do you envision your life if you were pain free? Feel free to share your comments below!