Here’s to the first CFC interview of 2013! 😀
Remember last year’s Spotlight Thursday where I interviewed a friend-turned-yoga instructor on yoga for weight loss and wellness? Well I thought it would also be great to have a fit friend share her experiences as a student of yoga practice! Read on to learn about how yoga helped my friend reach a higher state of fitness and mental focus!
1. Tell us about yourself!
I am a 27-year-old lawyer. My first job out of law school was as an associate at a large firm in NYC, which was awesome minus being perpetually sleep deprived. Currently, I’m clerking for a federal judge in Washington, D.C. On a more personal note, I am an avid NFL fan (go Broncos!), and I can barely go a week without shopping. And I am a big fan of fitness!
2. Were you a fit person growing up or did you stumble into it later on in life?
Good question! My parents had to kind of push me into physical activities when I was younger, because I was such a book-worm (and I still am). I tried a lot of different things for various periods of time: ballet, traditional Mexican dance (that’s a story for another day), karate, swimming, roller skating. My dad would have loved for me to play soccer or tennis but, as a child, I was extremely uncoordinated. In seventh grade, though, I found basketball and track, and discovered my inner athlete. Both sports were a huge part of my identity growing up, and laid the foundation for my dedication to fitness as an adult.
3. What was your first yoga experience?
The first time I tried yoga was about six years ago, during my senior year of college. I sustained a number of stress fractures in my spine when I was 18, which led me to quit the track team at the very beginning of my sophomore year. And I not only had to quit the team, but also stop engaging in high impact exercise for several months. By the time I got back into exercising regularly, I was pretty addicted to the elliptical machine which, while effective, could get pretty boring. I wasn’t ready to try weight training again just yet, but I decided to mix things up by doing a yoga workout that I found in a magazine. It was a quick 20 minute routine that I did in my dorm room, and it was a lot of fun. I am so happy that I tried something new, because now yoga is a big part of my fitness routine, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
4. You live a pretty busy lifestyle. How do you find time for yoga?
It’s like anything else that is important — I make time. I have found that I am more focused and effective at my job when I make a conscious effort to take time out of every day for myself. Sometimes that means I go for a run, or go to church, and a few days a week, it means that I hit the mat. It is a huge stress reliever and is a good balance to work and life.
Well, I practice yoga for a few reasons. First, like I said before, it is a form of stress relief. Second, it has also been a way for me to check in with myself. If I have a big decision to make, or if I’m confused about a legal issue, I can usually think through things more clearly after taking time to practice. Because I have to focus on my body and my breathing when I practice, everything else kind of goes silent, and I think that the mental break I get is key to being able to tackle problems once I’m off the mat. Third, I love the physical strength that comes from consistent practice. I know a lot of people look at yoga as an “easy” form of exercise, but not all yoga is easy! Finally, and I would be remiss to leave this out, yoga has helped me maintain a body weight and image that I’m happy with. Yogis are hot!
The general form of yoga that I practice is called vinyasa yoga, or “flow” yoga, which focuses on connecting your breathing with your movement between postures. My current yoga instructor takes us through 75 minutes of really intense power yoga in a heated studio.
I practiced Bikram yoga consistently for about a year, and I still do every once in awhile. Bikram involves a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The classes are 90 minutes long, and take place in humid studios heated to about 105 degrees.
Next on my list to try is Ashtanga yoga. A good friend (who is herself a yoga instructor and a lawyer) told me that she thinks I will love it. I’m always up for learning something new, and so I can’t wait to find an Ashtanga teacher!
7. Do you have any advice for someone who is curious about practicing yoga?
Yes — just get out there and do it! If you’re a member of a gym, see if there are any yoga classes there; they are often included in your membership at no extra charge. Outside of gyms, there are a ton of studios that offer free classes to beginners. If you’re nervous, find a friend and set up your mats next to each other.
Most teachers will ask at the beginning of class, but definitely let the teacher know that it’s your first time, and whether you have any injuries. The vast majority of teachers are super nice, and will take the time to explain the postures in more detail and help guide you through it. That said, don’t give up if you’re not into your first class! It might be that you don’t gel with the teacher, or maybe you’re having an off day. I would give it a few classes before throwing in the towel.
Lastly, don’t be put off if you’re not flexible, or if you don’t think you have a “yoga body.” Yoga is absolutely for everyone of any shape, size, or fitness level. As you get more comfortable, it will get easier for you.
Do you practice yoga for fitness or for mental focus? I can personally say that I’ve only tried yoga a few times, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised by the workout! What about you? Share your experiences in the comments below! -CFC