I have recently been recovering from a hip injury that was caused by tight hips and weak glutes and figured that it was time to listen to the positive yoga stories and take a hot yoga class. I used to do yoga frequently in middle school, surprisingly, because one of my friends had a mom who taught yoga at her house. We would go there after school and write about our worries, talk about gratitude, and do a session of yoga. I honestly wish there was this program for high school! After several long years without yoga, a few injuries, mileage increases, and few bad yoga experiences at the YMCA (we were in shavasana for 20 min.!) I decided to get back on the wagon and try it out again.
I signed my sister and I up for a “Hot Vinyasa” session at We Yoga Co. in Seattle. We both liked strength and power yoga with a faster pace, which is what vinyasa (“flow yoga”) entails. We arrived a bit too early but the instructor was very nice and showed us around. We put our things in a locker and went straight into the studio. It was warmer than we expected, but once we settled in it felt very comforting considering that we are in the middle of a cold Seattle winter. My sister described it as feeling like “the butterfly exhibit at the science center” which definitely gave the painted yellow, sunlit room more positive energy.
There was 12 others in the room who had obviously done yoga many times before because we felt inferior during the warm-up stretches before class. But as the class started and we settled into our breathing, the poses flowed smoothly and efficiently. I liked that there was a lot of strength work, especially with balance, combined with the gentle stretching of hamstrings and other tight areas. At first I worried about how my amateur yoga looked compared to the others, but as class went on and I started to become more relaxed and focused, all of those doubts left my mind. I focused on correcting my form and synchronizing my breaths so that they were of the same duration.
Once the class was over we felt a little tired and flushed but also very relaxed. Our minds were clear and ready to tackle the day. It was as if our bodies had just woken up. It made we want to strive to live a healthy lifestyle full of yoga, running, and clean, wholesome foods. In a sense, it made me want to focus on becoming a better version of myself moving forward. Of course I wanted to repeat that feeling again so I signed up for an unlimited month of yoga at the Spira Power Yoga studio in West Seattle.
I had never taken a class at Spira, nor did I know what a typical class would entail. But I knew that I wanted to improve my running and my mentality and I knew that yoga would do that for me.The next day I awoke to snow, but that made the craving for hot yoga even stronger. The instructor’s kindness put my doubts about the class at ease. The studio is very colorful with yellow walls and flowers adorning little nooks and crannies. The room felt warmer than at We Yoga, but it felt nice coming from a chilly, snow-filled outside. There was only five students in the class, and one of the students told me it varies from 5 to 30 people on some days.
The class was longer and harder than We Yoga but I liked the intensity. The instructor added mindfulness cues to every pose and often went beside me to show me the yoga poses and flows I wasn’t used to. Everyone in the class was definitely better than me, but I didn’t let that stop me. I felt strong in every pose and didn’t feel bad when I needed to take child’s pose for some of the more difficult ones. I know that my balance and core will improve significantly if I keep at yoga throughout the month which is beneficial considering Track starts next Monday. My hips will open up, my stride will lengthen, and my stability will be much improved. I look forward to going to the next class knowing that I am getting stronger with every practice. Not only will this help with my physical health, but I think it will also enforce a more positive mindset in my life as well. With AP tests and college decisions coming up I know that will be much needed.
Yoga is an inclusive practice that benefits everybody despite physical strength or size. I think that is what I enjoy most about yoga. It is judgement-free. It isn’t your appearance that matters, it is your inner strength.