What is Yoga and Why Do I Practice Yoga?
This is a question that I was first asked in my prep for Yoga Teacher Training at CorePower here in Portland.
We’ve all heard the benefits of yoga. Yoga can help tone and define your muscles, it burns calories, and it can help you relax and feel rejuvenated. It's a dynamic balance that connects the mind, body and overall wellbeing.
It’s often so easy in our culture and society to work so hard, study so hard to the point we felt stressed and burnt out. In my experience, it’s tough to connect to that state of being ‘in the flow’ or even finding motivation when you are tense, tight, tired, and burnt out, so that’s why I do yoga! Yoga keeps me flexible so that I can go with the flow in life, and helps me shed the layers of tension that build up mentally and physically each day.
I started questioning my reason for my fitness choices. Was it out of ego or was there some sort of deeper purpose? Before deciding to make the first step of Yoga Teacher Training, I started to wonder why I do yoga, and why everyone else does it. My reason is simple: I do yoga because it connects me closer to myself, to others, and overall balance we all search for in this chaotic world.
Thinking back to my first yoga class over a decade ago, I stepped onto the mat for all the wrong reasons, and primarily because it was the super trendy thing to do. I was 18-years-old wrapped in the superficialness and materialism of living in Silicon Valley. But, yoga was more than a trendy workout where I could sport my latest Lululemon gear. Little did I know then, how much I'd fall in love with yoga. My practice was and has become, the balance I need and the most influential teaching of personal patience.
I started off wanting to get stronger, but I ended up learning about myself. My journey has turned into personal growth, and in time you do get stronger, physically and mentally. This became even more evident while in recovery from a lifelong eating disorder. During this period, yoga was the medicine I needed for inner healing.
Over the years, as I've continued my practice, I've come across many individuals that have touched and moved me; while others have inspired me to dive in deeper. The idea of teach training was first planted over five years ago when I was still living in San Francisco. Yet, I never took the plunge. I always doubted that I was yogi because I was never embodied the yogi physic and wasn't exactly the most graceful or limber person in the class. Clumbsy is my middle name.
I was not zen. Far from it. I lacked a lot of patience; often, my A-type personality would stop me from ever getting into the flow and silencing the endless to-do list in my mind. I also would practice consistently, then took long periods off. I never thought I was good enough to follow through training. As the years went on, and various life events happened, yoga was there. Yoga taught me the things I would struggle with on a personal level. Whatever happened, I could leave it on the mat.
I was lucky enough to have fantastic teachers, yet, Misha Kerpon was a teacher that really made me realize that you don't have to fit the yogi box and that yoga was fun. She would always make the class a lighthearted yet powerful practice. Misha had a way of making people fall in love with something she truly enjoyed sharing with the world.
But why now? What makes this moment in time the perfect time?
Perhaps it is my recent divorce or my soul longing for a challenge, a deeper commitment to myself. I'm not sure exactly what it is just yet, but I know that this answer will become more evident in the eight weeks to come.
What I want out of it is a deeper connection to my practice, my community, and overall wellbeing. As my online persona has grown to be an influential voice within my community, I want to be able to help others find their self-love and appreciation in whatever they are struggling with. For me, yoga was my saving grace.
Valerie is a San Francisco native who loves overall health and wellness. She content creator and recipe developer, helping brands in the Fitness, Health & Wellness space tell their stories through gluten-free, mostly plant-based food, life + travel.