This post comes from our contributor Kristen Hedges, a yoga and meditation instructor.
Stepping into my first yoga class wasn’t something that I had planned. But since then, I’ve realized that often the best things in life sneak up behind you and nip at your ankles; they whisper rather than shout.
I was walking down Sutter Street in San Francisco with a half-finished clay lion under my arm when I saw the class schedule taped to the inside of a studio window. There was a Vinyasa class starting then – right that second.
My heart hopped from the lion, to the wooden studio door and back again. But just as I was getting ready to turn away on my heel, another student opened the door and held it for me with a smile. I set the lion head down on the stairs. With one, fluid footstep, I simultaneously dropped out of art school, and slipped gracefully into a new chapter in my life. A better one, I think – full of asana, and months spent living at an Ashram in the valley, and lots and lots of hasty, heart-centered writing.
Many folks begin their yoga practice less dramatically than I did, often with a quick class at the gym, or a DVD at home. But yoga can plant a seed of transformation in your mind & in your body no matter how you stumble into your humble beginnings. All methods, class types & practices are wildly beneficial – as long as you take that first step, and start.
As a yoga instructor, I’ve found that the reasons my students choose to keep practicing vary quite a lot. So rather than listing out the standard benefits – better balance, muscle strength, flexibility, etc – I’ve asked some of my loving friends & fans to tell me why they practice.
“I practice yoga because it heals not only my body, but my mind & spirit as well.” – Anais (pictured above)
“I practice regularly as a way of checking in with my body and my mind. Truly, yoga serves as my real-life “reset” button. When life gets crazy and overwhelming, I can always roll out my mat and slow everything down for a while.” – Janie
“I love that yoga is whatever I need it to be, whenever I need it. Invigorating, calming, emotional or physical therapy, stress reliever, and so much more. From my practice I have learned to be present and to accept each and every moment for what it is. And yes, it is an incredible workout, too.” – Beth
“My body craves the challenge of yoga, and I do my best to deliver.” – Erika
“One reason I practice yoga is to achieve a sense of balance – for both my physical body and emotional being.” – Hannah
“I practice yoga because it humbles me. It reminds me to breathe and realize it really is OK to be human, that we’re all in this together.” – Chelsea
“I like to practice yoga because it reminds me to practice loving kindness with myself and it helps me appreciate my body and all the amazing things it does for me.” – Justene
And me? I practice yoga because it’s the one of the only things that slows me down & drops me into the beauty of the moment, every single time.
So, tell me in the comments – why do you practice? And if you have any questions about yoga, how to get started, what it’s like, etc, I’m full of answers!
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