A few weeks ago, I decided to check out a local yoga studio for the first time. I got into yoga when I was sent home from college during the pandemic and felt stuck. What started with a YouTube recommendation for a Yoga with Adrienne video and a bit of curiosity turned into a regular practice and skill that I wanted to continue.
In a world where life feels like it is constantly moving, yoga offered a time where I never felt like I had to rush.
I’ve never been super flexible, and it was definitely challenging at first. The virtual instructors early on said that yoga is great for everyone because you can practice at your own pace. My positions were not supposed to be exact replicas of what I saw on the screen, especially as a beginner. I went through each to the best of my ability and moved gently from pose to pose. I loved how yoga focused on the breath combined with motion and mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness of what you are sensing and feeling at the moment. It’s so easy for me to get so caught up in all the tasks I have to do that I forget to take a breath and appreciate where I am right now.
Once I watched my first yoga video, I quickly found out that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out anytime soon. YouTube offers a yoga video for from five minutes to over an hour, any mood you’re in, and all skill levels. Yoga isn’t the best to do on the carpet, so I bought a mat pretty early.
One year later, yoga is still a good go-to whenever I want to relieve stress, get some exercise in, take a break from schoolwork, or just relax. In college, when it feels my work is never done, it is nice to start a yoga or exercise practice. I can let go of my thoughts and worries about the day and focus on my breath and the movements of each pose. Sometimes, I would take a 5-10 minute yoga break during the day and my mind feels more clear and I feel so much less tense.
Once I got back to my college dorm, it was a little more difficult to let go of thoughts of school, but even if I’m stressed starting out, I always feel better having completed practice and I get a boost of motivation to return to my assignments for the day. Yoga also helps me wind down at night or wake up in the morning.
I thought of trying out a studio at college for a while and heard they would be open in the Fall, but I kept putting it off. I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like in person. One weeknight, I decided to check out a Vinyasa class at 5 pm. I walked into town and checked out the local studio, Broad Street Yoga. I saw warm candlelight fill the square studio windows as I walked up to the studio from the darkening street. A woman with flowing brown curls and bubbles around her was painted on the window.
I went to check-in and then walked into the back room. The floors were long dark hardwood and candles and a small speaker rested at the ends of the room. The room was a little warm, but not hot. About halfway through the lesson, it got hotter and our instructor asked if we’d like to turn the fans on. Our yoga instructor began with stretches and we went through each phase with our breath, counting down from five each time. I had worried a little before that with other people in the room, I would feel self-conscious or it would be harder to lose track of my thoughts and focus on the movements. But with the candles, wide-open space, and the gentle voice of our instructor, I felt more mindful of my movement through each pose than I had in my (sometimes messy) college dorm and my living room at home.
Yoga also feels so nice. The stretch felt great after a long day of classes, and I was a little sore afterward, but not too sore. The class was an hour, which was longer than I usually did for online classes, and it felt like a perfect time slot. By the end of the session, I had gotten lost in the movement and gentle music playing in the back right corner. College worries were out of my mind for an hour. I walked back to my dorm feeling less stressed, peaceful, and happy. The people that were there with me were kind and understanding. We talked a little before and after the session and it was nice to have company going through a class with me.
Some of the stretches required a lot of flexibility and balance, and I did drop my foot a couple of times only to stand back up again. My instructor told me that “if you’re doing your best, you’re doing it right.” It helped me feel better. Every time I tried a pose and wished that I could balance longer or in a harder pose, I knew there was an opportunity to improve through further practice. After a few months, these poses would be more familiar and I’d be able to hold them longer and with more ease, but they’d still be challenging. There are a few modified poses too that require a little less balance if you’re not comfortable with the more difficult ones. I still do modified poses when the first pose seems less doable. That’s a nice thing with yoga, all levels are welcome, and even experts can get a good workout after a long session.
I also learned that there are many different types of yoga. I took a Vinyasa class, which I had been more familiar with when I watched online videos, which focuses on breath-work and motion. Vinyasa yoga classes typically switch up the poses throughout the sequence in a continuous flow. The Vinyasa keeps life moving and I love how no sequence is exactly the same.
I think I’ll be back at the yoga studio on Broad Street and I’ll keep looking at online videos. Broad Street Yoga also records lessons to be put on Zoom if you’re unable to visit in person. Either way, yoga has been rewarding and I’d say if you get the chance, check out a local yoga studio, a yoga video on YouTube, or just look up some poses online. If you’re interested in Broad Street Yoga, check out the schedule on their website: https://www.broadstreetyoga.com/schedule
Have you ever visited Broad Street Yoga or tried yoga before? How did you like it? Do you have a favorite way to chill either on a busy day or just whenever? Let me know in the comments!