My first yoga class was an unforgettable experience.
I’d been yoga-curious for a while, experimented with videos and online tutorials. But finally a friend I knew through my old job convinced me to join her at the local free yoga classes at Bayfront Park in Miami. It’s a stunning venue — the lapping water of Biscayne Bay to the front, the glittering buildings of Miami’s downtown to the back. I got down and tried to bend and stretch with the best of them. The instructor was a smokin’ hot dude with flowy white pants. When he moved into a headstand position I was sure nobody else could do, I was astounded to look around and see at least half of the class standing on their heads right around with him. Needless to say, I felt out of my league. And at the end of it, we discovered that my yoga friend had exacerbated a pre-existing injury. That class landed my friend in the hospital with back and neck problems, and made me steer clear of yoga classes completely.
So I kept trying, I gave it another whirl with videos. But it isn’t the same, doing yoga by yourself in your living room with no guidance. I grew to love the Wii Fit yoga — it’s super precise because of the Wii Fit platform, which can detect even the slightest tremor in your feet. But still, I wasn’t motivated enough to want to practice every day.
I wanted that passion the diehard yoga fanatics seemed to exude. I wanted the inner peace yoga seemed to almost-guarantee anyone who practiced it. I wanted to have a transformative yoga experience.
I got what I wanted, when I went to a Voluptuous Vinyasa class.
Billed as yoga for plus size women, it’s all about nurturing your soul, adapting your body, and freeing your mind. The class I attended was led by Yamilee Bastien, a Miami-based yoga instructor who is all about creating a haven for women who may be hesitant about contorting their bodies into pretzel shapes, or who know a headstand isn’t in their immediate future. Yamilee helped to shatter some of my preconceptions about yoga. Number one — it really CAN be for everybody!
Our class began with some sharing and writing, we sat in a circle and identified the things we appreciated about our bodies, our dreams for the future, the things we needed more and less of in our lives. We filled out a harmony wheel, ideitifying the areas in our lives where the wheel needed to be rounder and healthier. Then the session began. Yamilee’s class is intimate and she really takes the time to make sure every student feels loved, appreciated, positioned correctly, and comfortable — which isn’t easy when you’re in downward facing dog. But I’m happy to report, the poses became easier as the class continued. My first efforts at downward facing dog were tremulous and unsure – my hands were sweaty and slippery and I didn’t feel confident I could hold the pose. But by the end of the class, I did! And I finally felt that internal calm that I noticed in the eyes of my friends who regularly practice yoga. By the end of Yamilee’s class, I wanted to make yoga a regular part of my life. It’s a promise I’ve made to myself. Even though I’ve since moved from Miami and won’t be practicing with Yamilee anymore, I’m looking for somewhere in Chicago to pick up where I left off.
My friend in beauty blogging Julia of All About the Pretty rhapsodized about the benefits of yoga when we met in DC, then she sent me an awesome article from Natural Health Magazine about yoga and weight loss. Yoga might not be the only thing to do if you’re on a fitness quest, but practicing it regularly can lead to an increased awareness of your body’s needs, and from there comes a desire to improve your diet and overall way of living. I’m happy to say that now I get it. I understand. I’m a believer. And I plan to make yoga a regular part of my life as I continue on the 50 Million Pound Challenge.
Do you practice yoga, bellas? Share your yoga experience with me!