When I stepped into my first hot vinyasa yoga class, I felt both excited and apprehensive. I had heard wonderful things about the benefits of yoga, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. All in all, I was proud I was finally giving it a shot.
As I entered the yoga studio, I was immediately greeted by a friendly and eager instructor. Yet a sense of fear still came over me as the warm air in the room enveloped me. I wasn’t used to exercising in the heat and I worried whether I’d be able to make it through class.
Despite my fear, I laid my yoga mat down and prepared to start my journey into the world of hot yoga. We started in Savasana and I listened intently as the instructor recited words of encouragement to begin the class. This was new to me; never before had I experienced such a calm, serene environment.
As I lay there welcoming the restful pose, the instructor told the class, “Be present in this moment. Relax your mind and forget about everything else going on in your life and remember what brought you to your mats.” Her words really hit home for me, because I realized I’ve never really been able to relax and enjoy the present moment. I’d always been so focused on the future and longed for things I still had yet to experience. I was too busy worrying about when it would be “my time” to find true happiness. But what I hadn’t realized until listening to my instructor’s wise words, was that this was actually my time.
To me, happiness had always meant becoming a wife and mother. I felt I wouldn’t be truly happy until I reached those milestones in my life. Looking back, this is probably what caused me to settle for the wrong relationships. I was so determined to attain what I considered “the holy grail,” that I ignored red flags. I sold myself short in the hopes that I’d finally get what I felt I needed to be whole. But all I ended up feeling was even more broken.
I used to look down on my life because it was different from my peers. They were all married and having babies, but I wasn’t. I felt left behind. I discounted all of my accomplishments because none of them included being a wife and mother. I constantly compared myself to others and ignored all the blessings I had in my own life. My successful career, the house I had bought all on my own, and my supportive family and friends didn’t feel like enough for me. I always felt like something was missing and I desperately longed for more.
My instructor’s words made me realize I needed to start loving the moment I was in. As author Eckhart Tolle said, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.”
As the class continued, I watched my fellow classmates begin to stand on their heads in the middle of the room. They made it look so effortless, which made me insecure about my lack of experience. Again, there I was comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate for being at a different level. I thought to myself, I can’t do that. Am I—literally—in over my head? What if I’m not cut out for this whole yoga thing? Noticing the look of uncertainty on my face, my instructor addressed the class by saying, “We’re all at different levels. Don’t think you can’t do yoga just because you can’t stand on your head.” Immediately, I felt comforted by her words, realizing that I needed to embrace where I’m at in my yoga practice as a beginner, and where I’m at in life. It meant that just because I couldn’t do a headstand didn’t mean I wasn’t a yogi, and just because I wasn’t a wife and mother yet didn’t mean I was any less of a woman. I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I didn’t know that taking the chance and stepping into a yoga studio that day would have such a profound impact on my life. I instantly fell in love with the mind-body connection it offered. In finding yoga, I found myself.
I now embrace the beauty of the present moment and don’t take anything for granted. Everyone’s story is beautiful… including my own. Each of our lives are unique in their own way, and that's what gives them purpose and meaning. I’m no longer chasing after happiness; I have found it within myself. I still want all the things I’ve always wanted of course, but I’m now at peace with the process. Life is truly meant to be a journey, not a destination. Everything will happen when the time is right, and not a moment sooner.
Yoga has taught me to live in the now and appreciate all of life’s blessings as they come.
Photo by Jake Laub