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January 17, 2014 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Giving Yoga a Chance

By Rachael Ellen More Blogs by This Author

I am not graceful. Whether it has something to do with my big feet or my bad eyesight, I can’t really put my finger on it. Let’s just say I’m aware that anything involving me balancing with effortless finesse is highly unlikely.

Just to recap, I’m currently in my freshman year of college. If you happen to know someone in college, (or you’re currently enrolled) you can sympathize with me when I say a lot changes during that first semester away from home. Suddenly, every good eating habit you had flies out the window and exercise becomes infrequent. I’m here to testify that the “Freshman 15” is a real thing.

Gettin' kinda chubby...

My first semester's weight gain didn’t bother me at first.Then I noticed my jeans started getting tighter, and my tops were not fitting quite right. Little did I know that my friend, Gabri, was feeling similarly uncomfortable. 

Throughout the semester, we were both failing to make healthy meal choices. Finally, I got fed up. After taking a bite out of a nasty tasting calzone, I realized just how bad my health was becoming.  I confessed to Gabri how worn down I was feeling. Besides the weight gain, the first semester of college was taking a toll on me emotionally. I felt stressed and jittery. The unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise were making me feel fatigued. Gabri admitted that she was in the same boat.

Thank goodness for that one friend who’s perfect at everything. As Gabri and I had been talking about our love of french fries and all things chocolate (this was after we admitted we had a problem, ironically), she’d piped up. She suggested we try yoga. I looked at Gabri skeptically before we both burst out laughing. The idea of yoga seemed intimidating and ridiculous. Did we really want to submit ourselves to embarrassing ourselves with downward dogs and tree poses?

Hittin’ the Mat

Soon after that lunch meeting, Gabri and I found ourselves walking to our first class. We started cracking jokes nervously, second guessing our decision as we got closer to the recreation center.

The dance studio was located on the first floor of the recreation center. The room was faintly lit, crowded with a dozen other students already sitting cross-legged on their mats. Gabri and I shot each other a questioning glance as we found a spot to sprawl out.  We had signed up for a meditation section,  focused entirely on calming our minds and bodies. After scanning the classroom, it was obvious by other students’ faces that they had no idea what they were doing. At the front of the room, a small, soft-spoken young lady welcomed us. She started the class with a breathing exercise and continued on with other poses to help us relax.

To my disbelief, much of my anxiety about looking like an idiot started to fade. I was too engrossed in the soft music and poses to pay much attention to anything else. When the class ended, I was surprised at how much I had enjoyed it. It felt as if I’d taken a deep breath of fresh air. For that hour, all of the stress of my classes had melted away. It was like waking up from a power nap, and a part of me just wanted to stay and continue to snooze.

It’s been a couple months since my first yoga class. Since then, Gabri and I have continued to go regularly. We’ve even roped our friend Jaclyn into joining us! The addition of yoga into my life has helped relieve my stress and also has given me something to look forward to during my week. Looking back, it makes me sad that I almost didn’t give yoga a chance. Sure it made me feel uncomfortable at first, but all new things have a tendency to do that. The real test is whether you have the drive to stick to whatever you started, no matter how dumb you might look. Bottom line? If you’re looking for a healthy exercise, full of benefits, stress relief, and tight, stretchy pants, give yoga a shot.

Heck! If I can do it, you can do it.

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