When I was 23, I found myself deeply unprepared for the next step I had chosen in life: joining the military. I had a few precious months to prepare for boot camp. I thought, “Hey, I am young and ‘fit’ (what I meant was ‘thin’ but I didn’t realize this at the time) I can handle it.” I began strength training and running 5-6 days a week and it was during this time that I was first introduced to yoga by way of DVD, as my small town did not yet have a yoga studio. Lo and behold, I did get stronger! I also felt like I was really using my entire body for the first time following along with those yoga videos.
However, three weeks into Coast Guard Basic Training I found myself bed-ridden with a litter of lower body issues, including stress fractures and strained ligaments. As it turns out, you can’t make up for a lifetime of ignoring your body with a few concerted months of effort. I eventually healed and completed my training but I had learned just how disconnected I had always been from my own body. The truth was, the body I expected to propel me through any adventure I wanted to undertake, was not actually ready. I have always had big dreams but I never dreamed my own flesh would keep me from reaching my goals. Something needed to change. I couldn’t go back and make up for those lost years but I could start now to build the vehicle that would take me wherever I wanted to go.
I remembered the overall physical knowledge and well-being that those yoga videos had introduced me to and, in the years following, I sought out yoga studios where I was stationed. I would return a few times to each studio but would eventually move on. As a life-long ‘non-athlete’ I felt like I was always trying to keep up with everyone else in the class. Other students seemed to easily intuit the next transition and the instructors moved so quickly through the positions. I thought, “I am just not cut out for the ‘sport’ of yoga.”
Never one to give up, I sought out yet another studio when I moved to Anchorage in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t convinced I’d find what I was looking for, but the first studio I visited was Evolve and it was exactly what I had always hoped to find. Each session is structured to teach you rather than test you and the instructors act as guides leading you into your own practice. At Evolve, I have begun to soar through my journey of connecting my inner self with my physical self. I have learned that a yoga practice is a personal practice, something to be explored and progressed through at your own pace and in your own way rather than something to be powered through with grit. I am slowly being introduced to my own body and the power I hold within myself. Physical, mental, and emotional well-being aren’t things to be hunted down and attacked. For me, they are to be approached with gentleness and care. Embracing this approach, I know yoga will carry me along my journey of self-care for a long time.