Yoga is for EVERYONE.

 

I’m back! It’s been way too long since I’ve actually sat down to write. But the month of June was a big one for me. Intense, informative, exhausting, life-changing. I completed a month-long intensive yoga teacher training. Intense is in its name for a reason. For the whole month of June, we had four days off. And even those days were often filled with homework and reading assignments for the training. To be honest, even on my time off, it was hard to separate myself from the yoga world I had thrown myself into. I would try to take some time for me or take some time to spend with my boyfriend. But ultimately, my mind would always wander back to yoga. My days were so full of discussions on yoga history and philosophy that it was hard to switch to anything else. And the anatomy discussions led to me analyzing the alignment of strangers on the street. I was entirely consumed. Again, it was intense. But it was also beautiful and inspiring. And eye opening.

Over the course of the month, I learned a great amount about the practice of yoga and the ways of sharing this practice as an instructor, but I also learned so much about myself as a person. There were sixteen other women participating in this training with me, and due to the intense structure, long hours, and intimate nature of the yoga practice, we got to know each other pretty well. Getting to know these beautiful souls, and hearing their experiences and perspectives, taught me so much about my own feelings and experiences. These women taught me about who I am, who I want to be, and the world I want to create for myself. They reminded me of what I love about yoga, and they introduced me to new things to consider as well. They also showed me the kind of yoga teacher I want to be. These women were my mirrors, my teachers, and my friends.

I also learned so much about my own physical practice. I paid closer attention to my alignment. My strengths and my weaknesses. I noticed where I was pushing myself too far and where I could afford to push myself a little more. I also grew to appreciate the sacred space I have created for myself on my mat even more. My yoga practice began as a home practice, finding what feels good in my body. Moving in ways that allow me to open and feel strong. Expressing myself freely on my mat. Finding a place that is just for me. A sacred space. A home. My mat is a place that I always, always belong. No judgement. No one to please but myself. The more I learned about the practice of yoga in general and the practice of yoga as it has been experienced by all my fellow trainees, the more I realized how expansive this practice is. For me, yoga creates a sacred space for me to come home to myself. For others, it can be completely different. We all come to our mats for different reasons, and I think we all step away from our mats with different experiences. That’s the beauty of it.

Whether you’ve never done yoga before or you are a seasoned yoga veteran, your mat holds something special tailored just for you. This practice of yoga has so much to offer to everyone. It comes in many shapes and sizes and colors and forms. Maybe you think that because of who you are (how you look, the shape or size of your body, your level of flexibility, your strength, your personality, your religion, whatever!) you “can’t” do yoga. Or maybe you think you don’t want to. Maybe you think it’s just not for you. But after this month of diving in to the nitty gritty of this practice, I’ve seen that it really can be for you. It can be for all of us. No matter where you come from, what you believe in, or what you are looking for, yoga has something to give. Maybe you’re still unsure. That’s okay! I promise you that yoga is more than what you think it is. It’s a practice that offers so much. But you can just take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. It’s that simple. And it can’t hurt to try.

I want you to take a second and think about a reason that you might want to try yoga. Maybe you want to be more flexible or more strong. Maybe you want to reduce stress and anxiety. Maybe you want to increase your energy or you need help sleeping. Maybe you need to improve your digestion or other organ functions. Maybe you have a particular tense or sore spot you want to relieve. Maybe you just want to feel better in your body. Whatever your reason might be is valid. Now, I want you to think about the barrier you have put up that has been keeping you from actually trying yoga. Maybe you think you are too overweight or not flexible enough. Maybe you’re a guy and you think that yoga is for women only. Maybe you think you are too old. Maybe you think it goes against your religion. Maybe you think it’s only stretching and too slow moving for you. Whatever. Finally, I want you to imagine that this barrier you have put up does not exist. Because it doesn’t. There is nothing that can stop you from practicing yoga. Nothing. Yoga is for EVERYONE. Every body type, every age, every gender. Everyone. And it comes in so many different styles and forms and practices. Yoga is so much bigger than many people know.

So, if I’ve convinced you, and you want to try yoga, what’s the first step? Well, you have already taken the first step. You have opened your mind to something new, and you have acknowledged that you want to take better care of yourself. With yoga, the most important thing is showing up to your mat. Showing up for yourself. The next step is reaching out. Send me a message! Let me know why you think you might want to try yoga and why you think you haven’t tried it yet. I’ll do my best to give you some information on how to get started. I’ll give you any recommendations about styles of yoga to try, online videos, things you can do at home, books to read, whatever you are looking for! I’m here for any questions you might have. And if you happen to live in or around the Pittsburgh area, we can discuss possible one-on-one yoga lessons. I’m here to help. I want to share this magical practice with as many people as I can, because I believe whole heartedly that this practice has the power to change lives. Because it has changed mine, and I know it can change yours in whatever way you need it to. If I have learned anything in my month-long yoga training, it’s that I know for certain how passionate I am about sharing yoga with the world and making it accessible to the people who believe it’s not for them. So, please reach out. Send me a message. Ask me any questions. I really want to hear from you! Send me an email at nicol.eliz.yoga@gmail.com. Thanks for reading, and I hope to talk to you soon. Namaste, my friends.

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