Pranayama and Me: A Yoga Love Story

I remember the exact day that it happened. I remember the feeling of sweet surrender as I relaxed deeper into warrior one.  There are many things that I love, cookies, reading, blogging, baking, but there is one thing that I love more than all of those things and that is yoga.

Believe me, it didn’t always used to be this way. There was a time when I thought yoga was absolutely stupid. Craig has been practicing yoga for many years already and every time he would do yoga I just thought to myself how ridiculous it was, especially the meditation at the end. I remember trying yoga with him one time and quitting within the first few minutes. “There is no way I am going to do 50 minutes of this! I thought to myself, “This is so lame.” But really it challenged me. I realized that I couldn’t just be with myself, breathe and watch my thoughts. I was way to spoiled/self-absorbed to bother challenging myself or do any inner work and my mind was full of junk.

Time went by and I continued with my 50 minute cardio workouts, while Craig continued with his yoga, tai chi and breathing exercises. I became bitchier and more and more self-absorbed, while he became more peaceful and patient. It completely rubbed my ego! Every time I would be angry at him, he was just so good to me. You couldn’t get him mad. When trials would present themselves, like money troubles, he was so relaxed about it and would never worry. I wondered, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” At the time, I hadn’t made the connection.

Then one day I got a new cardio workout DVD and at the end was a yoga cool down. That was my favorite part of the video and after I was finished my workout, I would just lay on my mat in such a peaceful state. Could it have been the yoga? I got super into that workout and then looked up some other videos that I could try and found Patricia Moreno’s Cardio Yoga Burn DVD. After falling in love with Patricia Moreno, I discovered her Intensati workout DVD’s and finally made the mind/body connection.

The first time I put the Intensati DVD in I was completely weirded out, but I guess I just wanted to see how it worked. I mostly watched it and attempted very little of the actual workout.  If you aren’t familiar with Intensati, it is all about positive affirmations and taking control of our mind and our thoughts. Patricia Moreno adds an affirmation to each pose. The people in the video say all sorts of positive things, while doing high intensity cardio moves. For example, every day, in every way,  I am stronger and stronger, yes! or life, others, self, I embrace my power to choose, I drop the old for the new. If my ego wasn’t rubbed by yoga, it certainly was by this. I thought to myself, “This is crazy!” But still I had to believe that I was led to all of this for a reason and there was something about it that completely enticed me.

I started doing Patricia Moreno’s yoga DVD and Intensati workouts, in place of my other  appearance-fixated cardio workouts, even saying the affirmations out loud to myself, at first very secretively, even making sure the door was locked in case someone came by so that they wouldn’t walk in on me. It was all still very  foreign to me and part of me still thought that it was just a big waste of time. Still, something inside of me stuck with it and I started to change. I began to realize why it was so hard for me to say positive things about myself and my life or to just sit with myself and focus on my breath. I realized that I did not love myself at all. At the time I was still dealing with my eating disorder and was consumed with thoughts of my appearance and my weight. I was beginning to realize how completely selfish I was.

Over time, my affirmations got louder and my confidence grew stronger . I would even turn up the volume on my Intensati DVD when I would put it on and get really in it. At the end of the workout I savored the yoga and meditation, often ending the session with sweat and tears. For the first time in my life, I was actually taking care of myself. I realized that when I was restricting my calories and controlling my exercise and food, I was not really loving or taking care of myself, but abusing myself. Each yoga and meditation practice, led me closer to finding out who I really was and what I actually cared about. I realized that none of the material things that I thought I needed or cared about really mattered to me at all. It wasn’t that I was scared of being fat, but I was scared of allowing myself to truly be happy and to enjoy my life. My eating disorder was always just something that I used to affirm to myself my unworthiness and distract myself from taking any time to actually getting to know myself.

To me, yoga is not about exercise, but the greatest part of my spirituality. Yoga is my teacher. I learn more about myself and all the attachments that I have every time I hit the mat. I meet my ego and my fears during my yoga practice and it offers me a beautiful opportunity to just let it all go. I breathe through every challenging pose and all the resistance I discover in my mind to uncover my true nature and come to a place of complete surrender. This practice enables me to do likewise in any difficult situation that life presents. Yoga makes me a more happy, more peaceful and more loving person.

I guess the number one reason why I love to practice yoga is for inner peace. Doing yoga has taught me how truly important it is to cultivate that inner peace and to come to know and embrace all of myself, even the places I may be afraid to face. I believe that when we do our own inner work our outer life can and will change. I want to practice being in a state of love and gratitude no matter where I am and what situation I may be in. That is why I love yoga.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built. – Rumi