I have practiced it on and off since I was 13. Growing up in small town Iowa, I didn’t have exposure to a yoga studio or organized classes. All I had was videos, books, and the teachers my high school brought in from time to time. I loved yoga right away. When I decided to check out a local Des Moines studio I thought I would waltz in there and fit right in. I was wrong.
Everything about the studio was beautiful – the people, the clothes, the yoga mats, even the floors. The whole place was very intimidating all by itself (also very intimidating when there are beautiful yoga bodies all around you). I suddenly became very aware of how big my body was. No one said anything. No one looked at me funny. But I didn’t notice that. To me, everyone’s eyes were all on me and my (probably see-through) yoga pants.
Despite all that I was hooked right away. I was exhausted and sweaty but I felt great. The following day I ached in places I didn’t even know existed. After my first week I still didn’t know what a chaturanga was or how to properly do one (still a matter of contention two years later) but I did know that I was going to come back.
Yoga has completely changed the way I see myself inside and out. It has reminded me that I am strong, beautiful, and capable. Being skinny isn’t going to make me a better person. It’s not going to make me happier. My self worth is not determined by the size of my jeans.
It’s easy to think that yoga isn’t for you. I’m here to tell you that it is. You don’t have to be flexible. You don’t have to wear special clothes. You don’t have to look a certain way. All you have to do is show up. Really, truly, that’s it. Ignore the beautiful Instagram pictures on beaches. Ignore the perfect bodies in tight clothing. Ignore the commentary in your mind.
Join me on Tuesdays at the South Suburban YMCA at 4:45 or on Thursdays at 4020 70th Street in Urbandale. Tuesday classes are free with a YMCA membership and Thursday classes are $15 each, but your first two classes are free. Punch cards are available for purchase and offer discounts by buying multiple classes at a time. My classes are geared towards beginners and will help you understand some basic yoga poses, connect you with your breath and body, and help build confidence in yourself and your yoga practice. There is no need to sign up ahead of time. Just show up!
I’m a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and am working towards becoming Iowa’s first Curvy Yoga Certified yoga teacher. If you have questions, want to schedule a private session, or just want to chat yoga, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Jamie Elliott
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