Two years ago, at the end of my first winter in Chicago, which happened to be the most brutal polar vortexy winter in decades, I realised I had put on a few extra kilos (pounds!) than normal. And had reached a point where I really didn’t feel happy with how I looked.
I was used to living in a climate where you’re outdoors all year round and inherently more active. In Sydney, winter isn’t really winter.
Anyhow, the thing is I decided I needed, really needed, to do something to get more active. Even though exercise had never been part of my world other than “hit and a giggle” tennis games with friends.
And so I started Yoga. Crazy hot vinyasa yoga.
The first time I stepped into the room on a still arctic March day in 2014 I felt transported back to Bali. It was hot and humid, wonderful soaking heat that warmed your bones, and I lay down on my yoga mat feeling excited now as well as a little scared.
Within a month I was going 2-3 times a week. I had managed to conquer Vasisthasana, side plank; had fallen gracelessly forward out of Gorilla (ouch); and had yet to be able to “feel” the muscles in my legs – early on a teacher told me to tense the muscles in my back leg while in Warrior II and I was like “hmmm how, I don’t think I have any!!” (I can now!)
Fast forward 2 years and I’m still doing yoga multiple times a week and I’ve added spin classes as well.
So what’s the point you’re asking? The point is, well there’s a few.
One point is that I had always been pretty terrified of starting exercising. It seemed like a private club I didn’t have access to. There were languages I didn’t understand, clothing I didn’t have (or know what to get), and I felt that everyone else knew everything and I didn’t. Which is a horrible reason for not doing something.
I know now that you just have to show up. That’s it. Show up once. Don’t expect much of yourself (and see what everyone else is wearing so you can get it for next time!). In short show up and be kind to yourself.
The second point was unexpected and probably my favorite (autocorrect keeps removing the “u” Aussie readers!) thing about starting to do yoga. For the first time in my life I felt really in my body. Felt ownership of my body, pride in my body. I realised that I had lived my life in my head and had never really taken charge of my mortal self. Which is bad bad bad for a number of reasons – you’re far more likely to treat your body well if you’re grounded in it!
And then there’s stress. Exercise helping with stress is written about all the time in the press. It’s totally true. I feel calm and clear after a good workout, it’s why I usually go in the morning as it sets the stage for a great day. Then at the other end of the day I sleep like a baby as I’m physically tired as well as mentally.
So if you’re not in your body, get in it! You won’t regret it.