Why I Stopped Doing Yoga...And What I Learned From It
Ok, I admit, this tile may be a little click bait-y. You probably expect me to say I’m a seasoned yogi who practiced for many years and finally realized I was fed up with paying for overpriced leggings and classes.
The truth, however, is that I’ve only been to a handful of yoga classes. And those were while working at LA Fitness so they were free. Oh, and one time I did Beach Yoga with Brad.
You see, I can count my experiences with yoga on one hand. And I’ve never paid an exorbitant amount of money in leggings, despite how many $35 pairs I have come across at Target and made eyes at.
So how the hell do you stop doing yoga if you never really did it to begin with?
My yoga story actually started with a DVD. Someone in my old office was getting rid of all the free shit she had been given from people pitching her shows. I saw yoga and Jennifer Anniston’s name and thought, hey, she’s got a great body, maybe I should try this. So I took home Mandy Ingber’s "Yogalosophy" and made a promise to myself.
I was going to do it everyday on top of an evening run to get my fine tuned. I had just gone through a breakup and wanted to focus on me and my wellbeing… and my booty. I was 23 with the world at my fingertips. But also broke as fuck because student loans and LA rent. So I didn’t have money for classes or the social drive to take said classes with people I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have liked (harsh, but I know me).
So from the comfort of my studio apartment over looking my little Slice of Koreatown, I followed along with Mandy and cat cow’d and downward dogged and saluted the sun (moon) loyally. And it was fun. It was special to be in my own space, free of worry and judgement, and finding myself. How cheesy does that sound? But it was true, practicing yoga (in any form) is all about being mindful of your movement, your breathing, and your body. This was a pivotal time for me, the first time I had been alone in 8 years. I needed to feel myself as just me, and yoga helped me get to that place. Within a couple of weeks of flowing along to my yoga DVD, my butt was already firmer and perkier and my abs were starting to look a little less squishy. But more importantly, I was confident in the movement of my body for the first time in my entire life. More on that in a bit.
The other most important part of my yogic experience was that now that I had learned to be mindful of my body and movements, I could do a lazy woman’s workout anywhere! Y’all think I’m joking, but no. I read an interview with Salma Hyek once and she spoke on how her daily exercise literally consisted of activated her muscles all day. She didn’t go to a gym to maintain her svelte figure. Mind blown!
Remember I had no money for that and also still enjoyed Jack in the Box drive thru after hours and also had no drive or time to go sweat in public before after work. So I figured out ways to isolate my muscles while doing things I couldn’t escape doing everyday. Like Hayek, I just became supremely aware of my movements and the muscles that needed to be activated to do certain tasks. Just sitting in a desk chair with great posture will give you a bit of an ab workout. I’d take it up a notch, though. I’d do things (and still do) like isolate my glutes back and forth, you know, wiggling your butt cheeks while seated. Or have an impromptu dance party in my underwear while practicing my booty bounce skills.
Or doing calf raises while waiting at the copier. Or squeezing my abs really tight and holding for a period of time before slowly releasing. Kegels, too, y’all. They are a perfect “at your desk” or “stuck in traffic” exercise.
I even had the bright idea of creating a list of desk workouts and circulating through the office. I never did it though, but it’s still a good idea. Yoga really allowed me to pay attention and focus on which parts of my body were activated, when, and why. Knowing that basically turned anything into a workout.
And knowing also meant I could stop doing yoga along with my DVD in my bachelorette pad living room. But knowing these life hacks weren’t the only reasons I stopped.
No, I met a guy. My now fiancé to be exact.
And instead of going straight home and breaking out my yoga mat, it suddenly became more important to get home and meet up with this hot guy and his pit bull so we could walk our dogs together.
After a while, dog walks turned into more than just dog walks. And lets just say, I now partook in a different type of exercise.
Yes, sex in itself is a great form of exercise. And no, you shouldn’t be completely focused on how your muscles and body parts or tensing up and relaxing for sake of working out. Just no.Instead, you can hone in on the parts of your body that enhance orgasm or give you great pleasure. I won’t divulge my particulars, but maybe squeezing your glutes in that moment just prior, makes those fireworks all the more spectacular. Or maybe your partner is a fan of twerking. Well guess what, that requires a whole lot of muscle isolation (and rhythm, but I can’t teach that one)
For that, I refer you to badgalriri.
Eventually, said sexy time may lead to a baby, which for us, it did. In this case, yoga is also a great prenatal and postpartum exercise for its low impact qualities and ability to stretch out all those spaces baby has to push through (hips, pelvis), and then get them back right, and keep them that way (revisit those kegels when you have a moment). These tips from the National Association of Continence will guide you. Yes, mamas, don’t look at me like that. You know you peed a little when you sneezed or laugh throughout your entire pregnancy. It’s these types of secret exercises that I’d like to thank yoga for. Allowing me to be mindful of the motions and activation of my various muscles in the course of my day.
So you see, for me, yoga is fine as a hobby, workout, or way to get you back centered. The people who practice faithfully and can do those really advanced poses, I salute you.
And don’t think I don’t know how that body works in the bedroom. I’ve got yoga to thank for some of my moves, too. But there are some of us who just can’t get into the nitty gritty of it no matter how hard we try. For some of us living room yoga is as close as we’ll get to it. But don’t let that stop you from taking away some jewels, even if you suddenly find yourself doing absolutely no real exercise besides chasing a toddler through the house and activating your muscles while you brush your teeth. That’s my life, but with my careful implementation of my lazy girl workout, everything is still sitting as pretty as it can for an exhausted, and still nursing mama.
Tai Hanson is a 20-something mama, now living in Texas. She writes, runs a small business, and juggles a toddler and 3 dogs. Her blog, The Black Mama, is an outlet for stories about her weird quirks and parenting experiences and a place to celebrate what it means to be a black mama forging her own way.
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