The first memory I have of yoga was being at the gym and watching a woman do sun salutations. At the time I didn’t know that’s what they were called. The poses looked complicated and I was impressed by the seamless flow of movement, wondering how she even remembered them. “This must be Yoga”, I thought. I wanted to learn, but how? I had no idea at the time but I figured it out. Here’s how to get started in Yoga and how it’s literally at your fingertips.
Some years ago, my plethora of fitness routines included walking, light jogging, weights, and taebo. A couple years before that, it also included a few aerobics class with a local instructor named Karen Rosito who had the most amazing soca class ever.
Soooo…. Where is my totally fit and “slammin” body, you ask?
CHOCOLATE and CARBS HAVE IT, OK?
But seriously, one of the things that has balanced my love for chocolate and carbs is the fact that exercise has been an integral part of my life. I believe that’s tied to the 9 years I spent doing Ballet in Belize with my lovely teacher Mrs Valdez.
Yoga Burn by Denise Austin
My interest in yoga didn’t leave me alone. One way or another, it would make its way back to my attention and I’d resolve to find a way to get started in yoga. Being an avid Amazon customer at the time, I found a DVD by Denise Austin called Yoga Body Burn and decided to give it a try. The DVD was easy to follow and each session felt like a good massage afterwards. I learned all about sun salutations and how easy they were. Most importantly, I learned that yoga intertwines mind, body and soul.
Yoga truly connects you to self if you dive in wholeheartedly. I started including yoga as a regular part of my weekly work out, bending into poses at least twice a week. It became a routine – just me and Denise.
Body movement was important… no matter where I was in the world.
As life would have it, changes came and we tend to lose our routines in the midst of change. One of the places I had to settle for a little while was Utah. There was a moment where I spent most of my days in the confines of my domain and I was desperately seeking some interaction with people instead of glimpses to the outside world from the confines of walls and windows. I learned about “Meet Up” and saw a $5 class at The Yoga Center in Holladay, Utah. It was only a few miles away which meant my Benz legs or BMW bike could get me there in reasonable time.
It was my first “real” yoga class with a live instructor. I’d already conquered how to get started in yoga and this was a test of sorts if I was even doing it right! Everyone was so welcoming and the ambience of the studio brought so much peace to me. I wish I could remember the yogi’s name who taught the classes I attended. I was drawn to her energy and felt quite proud when she called me out on how good my alignment and posture were.
Oh the human need to be praised and accepted.
Yoga is for everyone
People of all ages attended the classes, including men and women. It was my first time hearing how yogis breathe in these classes… Breathe in… Inhale… and it was LOUD. Anddddd, breathe out… Exhale… Ahhhh! It was a little nerve wracking the first time but it served as a good lesson in focusing on yourself and your journey, minus the noise around you. One fine day I will master this, but guess what? Not then and NOT TODAY.
I could hear my cousin now, “tune it out”… “Freakin I can’t, dammit”.
My son can attest to the moments I’m in deep with my “Namaste” momentum at home which swiftly changes to a screaming fit over the decibels of his rants while playing his games online. Truly, I am a “masterpiece trying to master peace”.
Breathing and my perfect posture aside, this class was also my first experience with handstands.
We were asked to stand against the wall and kick up to handstand.
You want me to do what?
Inversions develop from the strength in your poses
One by one, I saw legs kicking up to the wall as easily as you can walk from one point to another. For me, it meant screaming each time I tried and well, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. There I was, proud of my poses, posture, balance and strength – did you people not hear the yogi commend me on all that? HELLO!
Haters asking for handstands. Show Offs!
I kicked up into nothing – let’s just get back to my beautiful posture people!
Never did I imagine that one day I could do an inversion – without a wall for support. While I’m still making my way to a handstand, I have come a long way and I feel quite proud of that. Inversions are a constant reminder that I can do all things I put my mind to, if I only just believe and apply action – of course. My inversions basically only include a headstand BUT I can kick up into a handstand quite easily now.
Relocating again, my new situation didn’t allow for yoga classes. Financially and logistically, even a $5 class didn’t work. I missed the balanced I found in yoga. It was therapy and exercise. It was meditation and strength – it’s is so many things.
Yoga at my fingertips
This was my Yoga class… at my fingertips, literally.
The app is so easy to follow and you can customize your sessions with poses you like best. The instructions are clear and include including a video of how each pose is done. It also has sound of waves gently easing unto a shore as you dive into your connection with your mind, body and soul. This was it… I finally had Yoga back in my life, like an old love I could never forget.
As social media blossomed in leaps and bounds, it started to feel like everything was always available, including yoga. I started to follow yogis on Instagram. One account that really caught my eye was Claire Fountain (@cbquality) – probably mostly because she was doing inversions to Popcaan music (@popcaanmusic).
I damn near asked her to marry me at that point. Inversions AND Popcaan music, are you serious?
It felt like inversions were everywhere, and they looked easy so I was encouraged.
I found myself attempting different inversions in the hall way, stemming from hollow-back to handstands to just putting my crown chakra to touch the ground because for a moment that’s about as inverted as I could get.
Then one day I looked at the hallway where I’d practice and saw a way to use the door frame for support to climb my way into a headstand. Soon after, I started kicking up into the pose and slowly learned to control the legs up and move away from the wall completely.
People have asked me why I love inversions so much. It’s because in that moment where I lean into trusting my body to balance me, it is the only place my mind goes. There are no worries, no distractions, no what ifs – there’s just me, myself and I trusting that I can do anything I put my mind to. And knowing that I am supported and strong. That’s something money can’t buy.
You can start yoga on your own and find your comfort zone with it. Word of advice, just focus on your posture at all times… your core is your main strength and alignment with your spine will provide you with the balance you need. You can start with a blanket although it’s not ideal. I was gifted a Manduka mat and it has made a world of difference in support for my knees especially. Besides those pointers, the only thing you need is your desire – to be better, stronger and healthier.
A bit of a disclaimer – I am not a certified yoga instructor.
Gentle reminder, I am still working on all of this – need I remind you?
A masterpiece, trying to master peace. Yoga is definitely a big part of that.