I have been practicing yoga on and off since high school. Back then, it was mostly for anxiety. It felt like a tangible way to calm down my mind and breathe. It forced me to enter a room without my cell phone and commit to zero multitasking for an entire hour.
In college, I would go to the student center one morning a week for an early morning yoga class. It was nothing fancy, but it was 45 minutes of calm music and stretching in the midst of all the busyness of college. I loved this time!
After John Robert was born, I took a long season practicing yoga at home via youtube. It was nothing fancy, but it kept me in the practice of doing it. It was harder to make it to the gym when the yoga classes were being held and I found that a shorter 30 minute online video was all that I could manage. Plus, it was free and Nate was in law school and I was full-time at home with the little man. FREE was what we needed!
Eventually, JR was weaned and I found myself able to attend one early morning gentle yoga class at the YMCA in Durham. I never broke a sweat but noticed how much my body craved the stretching. We would hold poses for way longer than I naturally would on my own and I loved the way I felt when I would leave class and the sun was coming up.
I can’t believe it has been just about 15 years since I took my first yoga class! It feels like forever ago and just yesterday all at the same time. But I think there’s some solid reasons it’s been one of the few forms of fitness that I have stuck to through many different seasons and transitions: it serves my mind just as much as my body.
It levels the playing field, making me feel completely powerful and completely humbled all in the same class. Weekly, I find that I am able to do things that I couldn’t do before, but also having a million things to work on and improve upon. There are some poses I can get into no problem, and others I can’t even begin to master. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of strength, other times a lack of flexibility, and oftentimes a lack of balance. However, no matter where I fall on the spectrum and not matter how many times I fall on my face in an arm balance, I never feel embarrassed or inadequate.
It also is a really good barometer for how well I am taking care of stretching my body. Within 10 minutes of being in class I am usually able to tell how little I have been stretching. So many of the simplest poses like downward and upward facing dog shine a bright light on areas in my body that are tight as all get out and probably affecting me more than I realize.
It reminds me of the importance of breathing, and how powerful that practice can be when it flows (pun intended) into other areas of my life. I can confidently say that I breathe better and deeper in a yoga class than during anything else I do in life. The deep inhale, the pause at the top of the breathe, and the powerful yet controlled exhale are incredible for the body and the brain. But more than that, I think it helps me take deep breathes when life gets hard in other areas. (That Daniel Tiger must have been thinking about Ujjayi breathing when we sang the famous tune “when you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breathe, and count to four!”)
But more than anything, I know that I have stuck with it because it makes me feel GOOD. Why would I not do something that leaves me feeling refreshed and strengthened both mentally and physically? It’s a no brainer for me.
In this latest season of life with three little people, I have found it harder than ever to actually get to yoga classes, so when I do go I want to make it count. I want to sweat and feel my heart rate increase. I also want to stretch and feel my tired muscles release. I want to completely detach from my phone and the demands of the everyday and enjoy the music and movement. I really want to feel refreshed.
Photo courtesy of AbbyMurphyPhoto
This year, CorePower Yoga reached out to me about trying their new studio that was opening in Mount Pleasant. I will be honest, I was skeptical because it’s far from my house and we all know making time for much of anything with kids can be a challenge. But y’all, I started to attend classes and let me tell you what, I am hooked. Even if I only get to go a few times a month, it is so worth it to me. I was the most shocked to learn how much I love a hot yoga class. It is hard. It is empowering. I am sweating down to my ankles and I LOVE IT! I also love the parallels I feel happening in my body during a class: the mental release of the days stresses coupled with the physical sweating. It’s just so good! I have never left a class wishing I hadn’t gone, and Nate has learned one of the most loving things he can say is, “want me to watch the kids so you can go to CorePower?” He’s a smart man!
I have now entered into a Partnership with the CPY Mount Pleasant Studio, which is something I would only do if I really loved it. Yes, there are other yoga studios on my side of town, but I am driving to attend this one. It’s worth the time to me (and y’all know what a high value I put on time!)
Photo courtesy of AbbyMurphyPhoto
Before I close out this love letter to Yoga, I want to tell you about an awesome deal CorePower Mount Pleasant offers called their $9 Orange Mat Deal. It is AWESOME! New clients can purchase a $9 Orange Mat on their first visit and receive TWO FREE WEEKS of yoga! You get free yoga AND a mat. For nine bucks! Can’t beat it.
If you are worried about the level of physical fitness, required, rest assured, CorePower offers classes for every fitness level and some are not heated. C1 is their foundation building, moderate paced class. My personal favorite is C2, which is faster paced and offers more challenging poses. I am addicted to it! I am also starting to love YogaSculpt. I say “starting to love” because this class HURTS SO GOOD! Yoga + weights with cardio intervals included. It is such an amazing workout. When I really want to breathe and stretch, I love the HotPowerFusion class, which focuses on combining strength with flexibility or CoreRestore class. Basically, they are all amazing.
One more big benefit to me is that the Mount Pleasant studio has two practice rooms, so they offer a ton of classes. If life gets crazy and I end up being 30 minutes late, there’s a good chance there is a class 30 minutes later. They also don’t require me to sign-up, which I really appreciate as a mom to three young children!
If you visit the Mount Pleasant or Cary/Waverly studio tell them NTK sent you 🙂 I hope to see you there!