I have a secret. I never liked yoga...until recently. As a holistic health counselor, it's almost unheard of not to enjoy yoga, but I always felt tortured by downward dog, nauseous from hanging out upside down and totally un-flexible (I'm so far from touching my toes that I basically have to squat to reach my fingertips to the floor). But I am very aware that yoga cleanses, heals and strengthens the body, so I decided to give it another shot, and now I'm hooked.
First, I figured out what wasn't working for me. I hated the nauseous dizzy feeling I seemed to experience mid-way through, so I asked an experienced yoga teacher for advice. When eating came up, I told her I wasn't consuming anything for about three hours before the class, which seemed like enough time to me. But she said some people need many hours to digest before practicing, so I tried four and then five hours and voila, it worked - no more nausea. What a relief!
Second, I found a teacher I really like, one who gently pushes me to go further, but encourages me to acknowledge my limitations as well. She'll stay after class to show me why my wrists hurt when doing downward dog and how to correct my positioning. I love that she talks about the different meaning and healing benefits of each of the poses. It's like a good date, you just know when a class feels right to you.
Third, I practiced. The first few classes were tough, but once I started notice that I could bend a little further, balance a little better and meditate a bit more peacefully, I was motivated to keep learning and practicing.
The benefits are clear to me now. Not only do I feel relaxed and cleansed following a class, but running and other aerobic activities are easier, my posture feels stronger and my mind feels clearer - how could you not love that?