Today I’m sharing more of a personal post. I try to keep things pretty positive on Get Fit Fiona, but I also think that it’s helpful to know that other people are going through the same things you are too – you feel less alone. I’m sharing my journey through grief and how it’s affected my yoga practice.
When I first started doing yoga back in 2011 or 2012 when I was going through some pretty heavy duty stuff. I had just ended a relationship and my family had some pretty major stuff going on.
A then co-worker (and now really good friend) said that I should come to a yoga class at the studio where she teaches. I hadn’t done much yoga prior to that, so I was a bit apprehensive. After a few invites though I finally decided to give yoga in a studio a try.
That studio was The Yoga Shala. They do a lot of ashtanga classes – mostly primary series and mysore classes in the morning. Since I was brand new to yoga, I thought that ashtanga was what all yoga was like. I had no idea that there were yin, restorative, or nidra classes.
Because I thought all yoga followed the primary series of ashtanga, I thought that all yoga was “hard”. I didn’t know that there were any alternatives, so all I did was ashtanga classes.
As someone who was new to yoga, I definitely had a steep learning curve. The teachers were all great at giving me modifications and alternatives to more advanced poses, but it was still a hard practice for me most days when I showed up at the studio. As tough as it was though, I loved the challenge. I craved the fact that I knew that I would be sweating before I had finished a couple sun salutation A and B’s.
Ashtanga was the main kind of yoga that I practiced for years afterwards. When I decided to finally sign up for yoga teacher training a year ago, I knew that it would be a good thing for me to try out other kinds of yoga – and more than just a yin class every once in awhile. I started going to drop in yoga classes at my gym, which were quite different than the ashtanga classes that I was used to.
I embraced the slower pace of classes that asked me to hold poses for longer than the 5 breaths that I was used to. There were definitely a few moments when I was frustrated in a yin class when we were holding a pose for 5 minutes and I was ready to move onto the next post after 30 seconds.
Taking those classes that were so different for me was such a good thing though. I got out of my ashtanga bubble and experienced a huge variety of yoga classes that I knew would help me to become a better teacher. If I had the choice though, I would definitely go to ashtanga classes. I was what I started my yoga journey with and it was still my favorite.
Fast forward to December and I experienced a big loss in my life. I won’t get into details about it, but it felt like my life had changed irrevocably in just 60 minutes.
Grief is such a tough thing to go through. It changed me in ways that I totally wasn’t expecting – one of them being my yoga practice. I no longer wanted to do ashtanga. My body just wasn’t up to the intense practice.
Instead I found myself drawn to more slower paced classes, like yin, restorative, and yoga nidra classes. I wasn’t in the right head space to do more intense classes. I was dealing with so much that I felt like I had to be gentle with myself – not only mentally but also physically.
For a few months I took those slower paced classes. I felt like I was in a fog those first few months. The grief was tough. I felt like my world had changed, but everything else was going on like nothing had happened. Going about my everyday life felt so different than it had before.
Then a couple months ago the idea of taking an ashtanga class started to appeal to me more. I finally headed to the Yoga Shala at the beginning of April for my first class back. On one hand it felt so good to be back practicing my first and favorite kind of yoga. On the other, it felt different. I can’t articulate why, but it was somehow different than before my loss.
Ashtanga yoga mirrored how I was feeling. For those first few months I didn’t feel like myself. I was still in the fog of grief and unsure of how to be more like myself. At the same time I didn’t want to do any ashtanga classes. I needed to give myself the grace to take a step back from those tough classes and embrace the easier ones.
When I started to feel more like myself, I was able to come back to those ashtanga classes that I enjoyed so much and made me first fall in love with yoga.
Has your fitness ever changed depending on what was going on in your life?