Gaining a Little Perspective as a Yoga Newbie

It’s time to mingle again, guys!  Today, with Kerry Rivera from Breadwinning Mamma.   I’m not exactly sure how I found Kerry, but I can tell you that from my first read, I was hooked on her blog.  Kerry juggles a home and a family with a demanding career, and as she puts it, she writes about the “joys and chaos of juggling a fast-paced corporate career and the messy, but wonderful milestones of motherhood.”  I love the honest conversations Kerry invites about balancing work and life and work and motherhood, along with her awesome book reviews and her journaling of the challenges and loves of parenting.  Kerry shares great information, asks questions, and invites dialogue with her readers. 

When Kerry told me a few months ago that she wanted to try yoga, of course, I was thrilled to pieces.  I mean, you’ll never hear me try to talk someone out of taking a yoga class!

I was so happy when Kerry reported back to me that it was a positive experience for her and that she wanted to keep practicing. I am very pleased to have Kerry share her experience as a yoga newbie here today. 

Yoga Class

“Accept where you are today, in this moment, and be grateful.”

 As I finished my first yoga class, these were the words the teacher shared before the final Namaste.

It would be so easy to look around and negatively compare myself to the studio of graceful students. I can’t touch my toes, my body feels awkward, and my balance is questionable at times. Right next to me, the woman outstretches beautifully into warrior 3 – not a hair out of place, no wobbles, no slips.

Me? Well, let’s just say you can tell I’m a rookie, and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

I’ve always led an active life. From the youngest age, I loved to run and play outdoors, and my parents signed me up for all sorts of sports and activities in a quest to help me discover my passion.

It didn’t take long for coaches and spectators to realize my competitive spirit. While I was skinny and a bit gangly in those early years, I feared no one. My sharp elbows gave me an edge on the soccer field – when the ref wasn’t looking – and my quick strides helped me outpace the other team.

For years, I trained to be the best. I played soccer in high school and college, and often heard the message that I needed to be faster, fitter, more aggressive.

Shortly after I graduated college, I hung up the cleats in favor of running trails and weight workouts at the gym. And to be honest, my daily hour of exercise became a religion – something I do just for me to release the stress and unleash the endorphins.

But over the past few months, I’ve had a yearning to try something new. While I certainly envied the svelte yoga body and the cute clothes, I never envisioned yoga giving me the workout I felt I needed.

Secretly, I also thought I would be terrible at it given my lack of flexibility and runner’s hamstrings. With my competitive spirit, trying something that I thought I would suck at just bruised my ego.

Still, over the past several months, external stresses have weighed on me. With three young kids, a long commute and work deadlines, I could tell my body and mind were running on fumes, so I figured why not. Let’s try yoga – tight hamstrings and all. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s been a month now since that first class, and I can tell you I’m officially hooked. I’ve tried out several different types of classes, instructors and levels. I’m sore in places I’ve never felt sore, and slowly the hamstrings are loosening. I love how the teachers I’ve come to know are kind and so knowledgable about the body. They are pushing me, but in a wonderful, peaceful way that makes me appreciate my body – not berate it.

I’m coming to understand why they describe yoga as a practice, a journey, a way of life. I’m still pounding miles on the trails and hitting up the gym, but I’ve discovered a couple of yoga classes a week to be so good for my body and mind.

On one end it is physically challenging – I have to give these yoga people credit, they are super strong. At the other end, it is bringing something into my life that I need right now – a greater appreciation for the present. My type-A personality is always thinking about tomorrow and what I need to do next, but yoga is balancing that with a sense of being more mindful today and appreciating the moment.

I may never be able to pull my leg over my head, but I think this new facet of my life has come at the perfect time. It is teaching me to be a little kinder, a little gentler and much more grateful. My personality needs this more than an ultra-aggressive sport.

I suppose the moral of the story is that I needed a little change. I needed to be open to a new challenge and way of thinking. I may look painfully awkward, but I accept and appreciate where I am today. Life is good.

Kerry Rivera

 Kerry juggles a full-time marketing job, husband, three young kids, an overly-energetic puppy, and a LONG commute on Southern California’s finest freeways. Squeezing in exercise is a must, and she loves to curl up with a good book. As she says, “Life is chaotic, but sweet.” You can find her blogging over at Breadwinning Mama and tweeting as @breadwinningmom.


Gaining a Little Perspective as a Yoga Newbie — 30 Comments

  1. Yoga changed my life in many ways when I discovered it years ago. While there are always competitive classes (even though there aren’t supposed to be), I love that it is an individual experience for the body and the mind unlike any other form of exercise.

    Kerry, with your commute on the CA freeways, I hope you find some peace in yoga. As a new CA resident, I understand how riled up those roads can make you.
    Melissa Burton recently posted…They Say You Can’t Go Home AgainMy Profile

    • I’m trying to stick with it. The class times aren’t always ideal, but I definitely am feeling the benefits. Where did you move from? Our California roads can be insane! Good luck on the transition. 🙂
      Kerry recently posted…Thoughts from a Yoga NewbieMy Profile

  2. First of all, good for you for trying something you thought you would suck at! I felt the same about yoga when I first started years ago. I’m a runner as well and had the same ideas about the lack of challenges yoga would bring physically. Of course, I was completely wrong and SO enjoyed yoga beyond what I imagined I would. These days, due to kids and packed schedules, I hardly ever see the inside of a yoga studio but I sincerely miss it…and I never thought that would happen! Thanks for sharing your story.
    Allie Burdick recently posted…WHATEVER DOESN’T KILL YOU…My Profile

    • Yes, with the kids and my job, it is going to take a real commitment for me to carve out the time to get to a studio. As a newbie, I’m finding the extra attention useful as I get the hang of the poses. If life and schedules get too crazy, I hope I can at least continue on my own solo. Thanks for the encouragement!
      Kerry recently posted…Thoughts from a Yoga NewbieMy Profile

  3. I have always wanted to be in to yoga, but like you, have a very, very inflexible body! But I have been thinking for months now that yoga is what I need. The combination of finding inner peace, stretching, becoming stronger (I couldn’t believe how much I sweat when I do yoga!) and all the other benefits that are being associated with yoga – it is what I need to add to my crazy life. Maybe I’ll go pop in the DVD and do some now! Thanks for the inspiration. And thanks Ilene for featuring one of MY absolute favorite bloggers!
    Alexa recently posted…Pin It! Tuesday! {Pinterest Linky}My Profile

  4. I have been to one yoga class – 10 years ago – and I was so surprised at how strenuous it is. I was out of breath and shaking on my mat during parts of it. One day I would like to try it again, so that I can approach with fresh eyes and a new respect for this body of mine and all it is capable of achieving.
    Kim recently posted…What the [BOOP]?My Profile

    • Wow – a marathon. That is hard core. I just can’t find the time to get those super long runs in with the kids and the job. I was able to handle the demands for training for a 1/2. I have total respect for those who do the full. Good luck!
      Kerry recently posted…Thoughts from a Yoga NewbieMy Profile

  5. I have wanted to take yoga many a times but its just not possible for me right now. Running is my thing. I’m so glad that you went for it and found it fulfilling a part of your life. I love when you said this “I accept and appreciate where I am today” – that is the most important thing! We all need to be able to say that. Great post!
    Krystal recently posted…The Good Side of AutismMy Profile

  6. What an inspiring story! Yoga totally intimidates me. I am not flexible at all and everyone I know seems to do yoga, which should inspire me, but makes me feel like I’d look like a fool in the class. Good for you Kerry for getting out and trying. Perhaps I’ll give it shot… Thanks for sharing this story.
    Leah Davidson recently posted…Quote of the WeekMy Profile

    • I still sometimes think I will look like a fool, but honestly I think everyone is so busy focusing on their own pose, no one is watching little all uncoordinated me. 🙂 You should give it a try. I’ve tried quite a few different types of classes, so it’s worth experimenting to find a class, style and teacher that work for you. 🙂
      Kerry recently posted…Thoughts from a Yoga NewbieMy Profile

  7. Good for you for trying something new! I’ve been thinking lately about how much I enjoyed the yoga classes I’ve taken in the past and maybe I should try it again. Your post is encouraging me to actually do it (instead of just thinking about it!) Love the quote from the end of class – I need to remember it.
    Stephanie recently posted…Three Simple Steps for Better Pictures at the BeachMy Profile

  8. Good for you – it’s a practice you can take with you for the rest of your life if you keep it up. My great-aunt still practices and she is 90. 🙂

    Also, yoga is not about flexibility, or poses, or anything like that. It’s about breathing and finding your center. Period. Anyone who tells you differently is missing the point. I promise. Right, Ilene?!

    Namaste. 🙂
    Deb @ Urban Moo Cow recently posted…How Should We Educate Our Children?My Profile

    • You are so right about the flexibility. I’ve found a few really wonderful teachers who are helping me understand my body and how we are all built so differently. I think the practice will help me improve my flexibility, but I’m actually drawn to the other benefits much more. It is actually very peaceful and quiets all of the crazy going on in my head. 🙂
      Kerry recently posted…Thoughts from a Yoga NewbieMy Profile

  9. I’ve never tried yoga. I have the kind of body that looks flexible (I’m very double-jointed), but without regular efforts, it’s really not that way at all in practice! My sister is currently training to be a yoga teacher and the impact it has made on her life is incredible. I think with my buzzing brain and interest in yoga, I think it would be a good match. If I would just pull the trigger.
    Tamara recently posted…Feeling The August Things.My Profile

    • Yes, I’m so glad Ilena allowed me to share some words. She has such a fabulous, loyal group of readers. I need to check out your site as well – sounds like we are leading very similar lives! 🙂
      Kerry recently posted…Something Has to GiveMy Profile

  10. Because I can’t quiet my mind yoga hasn’t proved to be my forte. I still want to give hot yoga and pilates a try though. I don’t see success with either, but I do want to give it a go.
    Andrea recently posted…Not So Subtle IgnoranceMy Profile

    • In addition to the yoga, this studio I’m going to offers suspension pilates and mat pilates. Both are very hard and a great work out. If you are generally more on the cardio/intense workout scale, this might be a great way to enter into the practice. Fabulous core workout!
      Kerry recently posted…Something Has to GiveMy Profile

  11. I love that yoga is something different to everyone and sometimes a completely different experience for one person over several sessions. It always calms me, no matter what. I’m also more in touch with my body in good ways and bad… I can tell where I’m holding tension and am more effective at alleviating it, but I also notice things like my hips pronate in so my Warrior 2 is funny looking because my thigh and hip do not want to turn the way they are supposed to and one butt cheek sits lower than the other when I’m in a squat. Go figure! 🙂
    Single Mom in the South recently posted…Wonderful, But Not PerfectMy Profile

    • Yes, I have to admit, I’m still intimidated, but I’m trying to just focus on where I’m at and work at small improvements and gains – like being able to touch my toes. 🙂
      Kerry recently posted…Something Has to GiveMy Profile

  12. Just today I swore that I was going to take on yoga regularly, after dipping in and out of it for years. Your post is just the confirmation that I needed. I LOVE that wherever you are in yoga, it’s the perfect spot! Beautiful and very encouraging post! Thank you!
    Mariann recently posted…The Boobs I Prayed ForMy Profile

  13. I did yoga for years after I had my kids and I’ll admit, I did if for the meditation at the end. I went to a yoga class at BlogHer and it was completely different and now I really want to find a class here for me to take. The next day, my body felt like I had worked out a ton the day before. I loved it for all the reasons you stated here.

  14. Great post Kerry! I’m excited to find another So Cal blogger. The freeways, oh the freeways! I am a former runner turned yogi. It’s changed my outlook in so many ways.
    Stevie recently posted…Getting Back to JoyMy Profile