The thing I hear the most from my clients at the studio, especially beginners, is how hard it was to step outside their comfort zone and enter the studio for the first time. Being immersed in yoga as deeply as I am I often forget what my first experience with a professional studio was like. I realized that not to long ago I was feeling the same way that all of my clients were feeling. In hopes to help a few more people introduce yoga to their life I’ve reflected upon my personal experiences and how I became comfortable in the studio.
Until a year and a half ago the only experience that I had with yoga was doing home workout videos occasionally during busy sports seasons. I used yoga as a way to loosen up after a tough week of practices. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Australia that I took the leap of faith and decided to try things I had always been curious about. I am a strong believer that everything in life happens for a reason to shape you in to the person you turn in to. If it wasn’t for these specific circumstances that I was in, I am not sure that I would be where I am in the yoga profession today.
Throughout high school I played on a very competitive basketball team. We traveled, practiced and played in games practically 12 months out of the year. During my junior and senior year I suffered from Achilles tendentious in both of my feet, an overuse injury where your tendon has small micro tears. To this day any type of high impact exercise results in a giant lump of tissue forming on the back of my heal. This drastically changed the way I trained and stayed in shape. I switched to weight training with low impact cardio such as the bike or stair stepper a few times a week. This gave better results but never completely solved the issue.
In July of 2017 I got on a plane, said goodbye to everyone I loved, and set off to study at the University of Wollongong, Australia for 6 months. This had been my absolute dream for years. Ever since I can remember I was obsessed with the idea of going to Australia and learning about their culture. To say that it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen is a complete understatement. It was, and still is, the best 6 months I have ever had in my life. I made a promise to myself that I would take full advantage of this opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone. I vowed to try new things when the opportunity presented itself, make my own needs a priority, and put 110% effort in to having the time of my life. After an exhilarating 4 days in Cairns I made my way down to Wollongong, New South Whales to my new home for the remainder of my trip. I lived in a small studio apartment that was set up like a hotel room(Bathroom, small closet, bed, and a desk). I shared a kitchen with everyone who lived on my floor. After settling in and unpacking I tried searching for things in the area to keep myself busy. I was looking to join a gym to stay in shape and pass some time when I wasn’t in class. Given that I had to walk everywhere meant that my options were pretty limited. The two gyms that were in walking distance were extremely expensive, I didn’t feel comfortable walking that far by myself at night time when I would be leaving to go home. Searching for other things to do I wandered across the street to the yoga studio to see what they had to offer. I had been staring at their sign from my window for the past week or so. This is single handedly one of the best decisions I could have made.
Hearing all of their offers I decided to sign up for a one month trial. I was actually really excited to learn something new. I signed up for my first class and it wasn’t until about an hour before that I really got nervous. I had no idea what to expect. What if everyone had been going to yoga for years? What if I made a mistake and everyone looked at me or laughed? So my thoughts were racing through my head. I was afraid to make a fool of myself. I remember my first class like it was yesterday. I sat as far away from the instructor as I could and spent a good portion of the class looking around at others to make sure that they weren’t already looking at me. I was in my own head for the entire class self-doubting myself and my ability to complete the course. I didn’t go above and beyond the beginners level poses in fear that I may fail. During savasana I remember the instructor saying “think of one thing you did well today. Think of one thing you could use to improve on, and one thing that leaves you excited to try things again.” For those of you that have been to my class you will recognize this saying. I use it every so often to hopefully give people the same experience and feelings I had while hearing it. I got in my own head and was able to pinpoint something I was proud of. Something I needed or wanted to work on more, and most importantly it left me feeling excited for what was to come in the next class.
If I were to try to explain to you the feeling that I had leaving class that night it would be near impossible. It was almost like an emotional high. A feeling of pure bliss with an undertone of pride for what I had just accomplished. If I could give this feeling to even just one person who decided to go out of their comfort zone and try yoga I would feel beyond accomplished as an instructor. The reason I do what I do every single day is for the people who come to class. To hopefully give others the gift that I received by taking a chance on myself and trying something new. The teachers I had while I were in Australia gave me a love for yoga so strong that I made it a profession and lifelong hobby and for that I am forever thankful.